Fourth of July 2023 Issue

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ake Hopatcong News<br />

FOURTH OF JULY <strong>2023</strong> VOL. 15 NO. 3<br />

All Their Children<br />

Over 2 Decades, A Landing Couple Welcomed 39 Foster Children To their Home<br />





Landscape Supply • Dumpster Rentals • Recycling Facility • Pavers & Outdoor Living<br />

Landscape Supply • Dumpster Rentals • Recycling Facility • Pavers & Outdoor Living<br />

Happy 4 th <strong>of</strong> <strong>July</strong>!<br />

Happy 4 th <strong>of</strong> <strong>July</strong>!<br />


THE FLAG ON RT. 15<br />



<strong>2023</strong> Wade Martin<br />

<strong>2023</strong> Wade Martin<br />

<strong>2023</strong> <strong>2023</strong> Forbes Best-In-State<br />

Wealth Advisors<br />

Forbes<br />

Forbes<br />

Best-In-State<br />

Best-In-State<br />

Wealth Advisors<br />

Wealth Advisors<br />

Wealth Advisors<br />

RBC Wealth Management is proud to recognize Wade Martin <strong>of</strong> the Martin Wealth<br />

RBC Wealth Management is proud to recognize Wade Martin <strong>of</strong> the Martin Wealth<br />

Management Group as a Forbes Best-In-State Wealth Advisor in <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

Management Group as a Forbes Best-In-State Wealth Advisor in <strong>2023</strong>.<br />

We are proud <strong>of</strong> our commitment to the clients we serve and to the areas where we live<br />

We are and proud work. <strong>of</strong> In our the community, commitment Wade to the Martin clients is involved we serve in clean and water to the initiatives. areas where At work, we live<br />

and work. Wade In takes the a community, distinctive approach Wade Martin to wealth is involved planning to in help clean clients water achieve initiatives. their At work,<br />

Wade dreams takes a through distinctive various approach wealth strategies, to wealth including planning investments, to help clients cash management,<br />

achieve their<br />

dreams estate through planning various services, wealth land strategies, preservation, including philanthropic investments, efforts and cash more. management,<br />

estate Please planning join us services, in congratulating land preservation, Wade for philanthropic serving his community efforts and more. on his<br />

noteworthy Forbes honor.<br />

Please join us in congratulating Wade for serving his community and on his<br />

noteworthy Forbes honor.<br />

Martin Wealth Management Group<br />

Wade Martin<br />

Martin Managing Wealth Director Management – Financial Advisor Group<br />

Wade Martin<br />

(609) 936-6411 | wade.martin@rbc.com<br />

Managing Director – Financial Advisor<br />

www.martinwmg.com<br />

(609) 936-6411 | wade.martin@rbc.com<br />

www.martinwmg.com<br />

Zach Martin, Maria Gaspari, Wade Martin, Noah Wiegand,<br />

Leah Zikoski, Brett Scharf, Arthur Martin, Allison Delay<br />

Investment and insurance products <strong>of</strong>fered through RBC Wealth Management are not insured by the FDIC or<br />

Zach any Martin, other Maria federal Gaspari, government Wade Martin, agency, Noah Wiegand, are not deposits or other obligations <strong>of</strong>, or guaranteed by, a bank or any<br />

Leah bank Zikoski, affiliate, Brett Scharf, and Arthur are subject Martin, to Allison investment Delay risks, including possible loss <strong>of</strong> the principal amount invested.<br />

The <strong>2023</strong> Forbes “Best-In-State Wealth Advisors” award was announced April <strong>2023</strong>. Data as <strong>of</strong> 6/30/2022. The award was developed by SHOOK Research and is based<br />

on in-person and telephone due diligence meetings to evaluate each advisor qualitatively, a major component <strong>of</strong> a ranking algorithm that includes: client retention,<br />

nvestment industry experience, and insurance review <strong>of</strong> compliance products records, <strong>of</strong>fered firm nominations; through and quantitative RBC Wealth criteria, including: Management assets under management are not and insured revenue generated by the for their FDIC firms. or<br />

ny other Investment federal performance government is not a criterion agency, because client are objectives not deposits and risk tolerances or other vary, and obligations advisors rarely have <strong>of</strong>, audited or performance guaranteed reports. by, Rankings a bank are based or any<br />

on the opinions <strong>of</strong> SHOOK Research, LLC and not indicative <strong>of</strong> future performance or representative <strong>of</strong> any one client’s experience. Neither Forbes nor SHOOK Research<br />

ank affiliate, and are subject to investment risks, including possible loss <strong>of</strong> the principal amount invested.<br />

receive compensation in exchange for placement on the ranking. The financial advisor does not pay a fee to be considered for or to receive this award. This award does not<br />

he <strong>2023</strong> evaluate Forbes “Best-In-State the quality <strong>of</strong> services Wealth provided Advisors” to clients. award This was is announced not indicative April <strong>of</strong> this <strong>2023</strong>. financial Data advisor’s as <strong>of</strong> 6/30/2022. future performance. The award For was more developed information: by www.SHOOKresearch.com.<br />

Research and is bas<br />

n in-person RBC and Wealth telephone Management due does diligence not provide meetings tax or legal to evaluate advice. All each decisions advisor regarding qualitatively, the tax or legal a major implications component <strong>of</strong> your <strong>of</strong> investments a ranking should algorithm be made that in connection includes: with client your retentio<br />

ndustry experience, independent review tax or legal <strong>of</strong> compliance advisor. No information, records, firm including nominations; but not limited and quantitative to written materials, criteria, provided including: by RBC assets WM should under management be construed as and legal, revenue accounting generated or tax advice. for their firm<br />

nvestment © performance <strong>2023</strong> RBC Wealth is not Management, a criterion a because division <strong>of</strong> client RBC Capital objectives Markets, and LLC, risk registered tolerances investment vary, and adviser advisors and rarely Member have NYSE/FINRA/SIPC. audited performance reports. 23-PI-01425 Rankings (06/23) are bas<br />

n the opinions <strong>of</strong> SHOOK Research, LLC and not indicative <strong>of</strong> future performance or representative <strong>of</strong> any one client’s experience. Neither Forbes nor SHOOK Resear<br />

eceive compensation in exchange for placement on the ranking. The financial advisor does not pay a fee to be considered for or to receive this award. This award does n

4<br />

LAKE HOPATCONG NEWS <strong>Fourth</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

From the Editor<br />

Quite <strong>of</strong>ten I am invited to attend and asked to write about all sorts <strong>of</strong> events from a variety<br />

<strong>of</strong> organizations. It’s hard to say no—I don’t want anyone to feel their function isn’t worthy <strong>of</strong><br />

space in this magazine. Most are.<br />

Deciding which event to cover is simple, though.<br />

I have two main criteria when it comes to choosing to cover an event for the magazine.<br />

Timing, <strong>of</strong> course, is important. I want to make sure what I put in print is as up to date as possible.<br />

Sometimes, I come across something that I’d really like to see in the magazine, but the timing <strong>of</strong> the<br />

event just doesn’t work with the publication schedule. Maybe next year, I say to myself.<br />

The other criterion is the event itself. It can’t be a private function. If it’s not open to the public,<br />

whether it’s free admission or not, then I generally stay away.<br />

But sometimes—just sometimes—I’m talked into something I’m not quite sure makes sense for me<br />

to publish.<br />

This was the case with a cigar and bourbon cruise held in June on Miss Lotta, the dinner boat on Lake<br />

Hopatcong. (See page 30.)<br />

On the face <strong>of</strong> it, it’s not something I would usually consider for the magazine—and I’d been asked<br />

a few times if I would consider a story. I always balked, never really seeing a story beyond cigars and<br />

booze.<br />

But an exception was made once I found out this particular cruise would also be a fundraising event<br />

for the Lake Hopatcong Elks Lodge. Now I could see a story that had some meaning behind it, and I<br />

agreed that this cruise would be the social event page for the <strong>Fourth</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>July</strong> issue.<br />

For clarity, I share an <strong>of</strong>fice with Lake Hopatcong Cruises in Nolan’s Point and pretty much know all<br />

there is to know about how Miss Lotta operates. I also know the crew.<br />

One <strong>of</strong> those crew members is Capt. Lee Moreau. He’s how this all got started, making little mentions<br />

<strong>of</strong> the fundraising cruise whenever he was in the <strong>of</strong>fice. Never pushy, just persistent.<br />

If you know Lee from Miss Lotta or his role with the Lake Hopatcong Foundation—a lot <strong>of</strong> you know<br />

him—you know the type <strong>of</strong> guy he is.<br />

He’s an ideas man, always thinking <strong>of</strong> how best to bring the community together. The annual Veteran’s<br />

Cruise around Lake Hopatcong? His idea. The Live from the Lake interactive cruise? Also, his idea.<br />

The Lake Hopatcong Foundation’s annual Block Party? Not his idea, but he and his crew execute the<br />

event with such precision, he’s become synonymous with it.<br />

The cigar and bourbon cruises on the boat? His idea, and on this night, he was a very willing<br />

participant, I might add. No worries though, he was <strong>of</strong>f duty.<br />

(For the record, while I do enjoy the aroma <strong>of</strong> most cigars, I did not smoke one during the event. Not<br />

my thing. I did try some <strong>of</strong> the bourbons, though. They all had a terrific, sweet, smooth scent, which<br />

is what I expected to taste on my tongue. How could my nose be so wrong? The flavor is never as<br />

smooth as your nose would lead you to believe.)<br />

The photo? My homage to Lee. Fun, yes, but also so much respect.<br />

Speaking <strong>of</strong> respect, please read the cover story for this issue. (See page 22.)<br />

Writer Melissa Summers pr<strong>of</strong>iles Carla Suitt, who, along with her husband James, matter-<strong>of</strong>-factly<br />

fostered 39 children in their Landing home over the course <strong>of</strong> a<br />

couple <strong>of</strong> decades. Many <strong>of</strong> these children—now adults—have<br />

stayed in touch with the Suitts all these years later.<br />

Melissa has known Carla for about a decade since Carla helped<br />

with child care for one <strong>of</strong> Melissa’s three children. She speaks the<br />

world <strong>of</strong> her.<br />

“She has a knack for kids. She respects them, they in turn<br />

respect her,” said Melissa.<br />

—Karen<br />

ake Hopatcong News<br />




All Their Children<br />

FOURTH OF JULY <strong>2023</strong> VOL. 15 NO. 3<br />

For Decades, A Landing Couple Welcomed 39 Foster Children to their Home<br />




Main photo: Carla and James Suitt in<br />

their home.<br />

Collage: A collection <strong>of</strong> family photos<br />

courtesy <strong>of</strong> the Suitt family.<br />

—Top photo by Karen Fucito<br />


Editor<br />

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Michael Stephen Daigle<br />

Melissa Summers<br />

Maria Vogel-Short<br />

Ellen Wilkowe<br />


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Barbara Simmons<br />


Maria DaSilva-Gordon<br />

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Lynn Keenan<br />

advertising@lakehopatcongnews.com<br />

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News may not be reprinted in any form without<br />

prior written permission from the editor. Lake<br />

Hopatcong News is a registered trademark <strong>of</strong><br />

Lake Hopatcong News, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Hopatcong, N.J.: ‘We Call It Lake Life’<br />

lakehopatcongnews.com 5

Something for Everyone at New Hope Thrift Shop<br />

Story by ELLEN WILKOWE<br />

Photos by Karen Fucito<br />

The parking lot <strong>of</strong> the Milton United<br />

Methodist Church on the corner <strong>of</strong><br />

Milton and Dover Milton Roads was jampacked,<br />

except there was no service, unless<br />

you count the customer service inside the New<br />

Hope Thrift Shop.<br />

It was barely noon on a summer-like<br />

Wednesday in May and a steady stream <strong>of</strong><br />

customers filtered in and out <strong>of</strong> the store,<br />

donating and purchasing—there was lots <strong>of</strong><br />

purchasing.<br />

“You can’t come here and not buy something,”<br />

said longtime volunteer Rose Lang, who was<br />

working the register alongside volunteer Joan<br />

DeYoung.<br />

Founded by Jefferson residents Jim<br />

Wildermuth, Dottie Leonard and Carol Robins,<br />

New Hope opened its historic doors to the<br />

public in 2014, six years after the church<br />

decommissioned the 1824 chapel and after the<br />

construction <strong>of</strong> its new church was completed<br />

at the other end <strong>of</strong> the parking lot.<br />

“The thrift shop had been in people’s<br />

thoughts for some time, but we had no place<br />

to put it,” said Leonard.<br />

Lang and DeYoung are just two in a pool<br />

<strong>of</strong> about 20 dedicated volunteers who pour<br />

their hearts into keeping the New Hope Thrift<br />

Shop and its customers humming along. Many<br />

volunteers are members <strong>of</strong> the Milton United<br />

Methodist Church or represent other churches<br />

in town.<br />

The “build it and they will come” adage<br />

applies here, as the customers keep on coming<br />

and coming back for more, particularly the<br />

hard-core thrifters.<br />

“We’ll have people come several times a day,”<br />

said Wildermuth.<br />

According to Leonard, Wildermuth was<br />

instrumental in transforming the vacated church<br />

building into a thriving thrift store—and in the<br />

record time <strong>of</strong> about a week, to boot. “All <strong>of</strong><br />

the shelving that looks like new wood—that’s<br />

all Jim,” she said. “As we needed more room, he<br />

would come up with it.”<br />

That includes the overflow outside: A large<br />

tent on the lawn houses everything from<br />

kitchenware to furniture to sporting goods. A<br />

row <strong>of</strong> tables is covered with piles <strong>of</strong> clothes<br />

and large framed artwork is displayed at the<br />

base <strong>of</strong> two storage sheds.<br />

Inside, the store takes on a micro department<br />

store-like setup as items are categorized and<br />

placed accordingly into sections that include<br />

clothing, accessories, housewares, toys and<br />

games. There’s even a mixed media section<br />

complete with old-school CDs and DVDs and,<br />

<strong>of</strong> course, books.<br />

Customers with their hands full but who still<br />

want to continue shopping can stash their finds<br />

into individual cubbies mounted on a wall next<br />

to the checkout area.<br />

Adjacent to the toy section and behind<br />

the scenes, several volunteers serve as quality<br />

control monitors, tackling bags and boxes full<br />

<strong>of</strong> new donations and pricing them accordingly.<br />

“Prices are set to move [items],” said board<br />

member Barbara Horacek. “So, they’re priced a<br />

little less.”<br />

Exhibit A: a woven picnic basket in perfect<br />

condition ticketed for a mere $3.<br />

“You never know what you’re going to find.<br />

It’s always different,” said Wildermuth. “Where<br />

else can you go buy a pair <strong>of</strong> pants for $2—<br />

brand new ones with tags still on them.”<br />

The proceeds from sales directly benefit<br />

the church—while the store itself benefits<br />

the entire community. This is exactly what the<br />

founders had in mind during the planning phase.<br />

“We wanted to donate to the community<br />

and help local people,” Wildermuth said.<br />

The volunteers have built mutually beneficial<br />

relationships with organizations including the<br />

Jefferson Township Historical Society, which<br />

serves as instant beneficiaries <strong>of</strong> historical<br />

items that have made their way into the store<br />

as donations.<br />

“We have three women volunteers who<br />

belong to the historical society, so we put things<br />

aside for them,” Leonard said. Those items are<br />

used in the Jefferson Township Museum or sold<br />

in the museum’s shop.<br />

Exhibit B: on this recent Wednesday, the<br />

historical society was about to inherit a glass<br />

keepsake dated <strong>July</strong> 1863 and etched with<br />

“Made in Gettysburg” to drive the authenticity<br />

home.<br />

Also <strong>of</strong> historical interest was the<br />

donation <strong>of</strong> a 100-year-old Lake<br />

Hopatcong Yacht Club trophy. “We<br />

gave it to the commodore, and he<br />

was very happy,” Leonard said.<br />

The reciprocal relationship with<br />

the community also fans out to<br />

Jefferson Township High School,<br />

specifically special needs students<br />

who pitch in weekly to straighten up.<br />

New Hope is also the go-to<br />

destination for costumes and props<br />

for school plays.<br />

From top to bottom, left<br />

to right: Shoppers browse<br />

through shelves and racks<br />

looking for treasures. Mary<br />

Parr, Lynda MacDonald<br />

and Barbara Motchan<br />

sort through new arrivals.<br />

Founding members Dottie<br />

Leonard and Jim Wildermuth<br />

with board member Barbara<br />

Horacek. Antonia Pavlova<br />

contemplates purchasing a<br />

set <strong>of</strong> chimes.<br />

6<br />

LAKE HOPATCONG NEWS <strong>Fourth</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong>

The Milton Rescue Squad also benefits<br />

from donations, specifically clothing that has<br />

overstayed its welcome on the racks.<br />

“Any clothing we do not sell or have been<br />

on the racks for a while, we give to the rescue<br />

squad,” said Leonard.<br />

With the thrift shop as the middleman, a<br />

partnership between the rescue squad and<br />

Turnkey Enterprises helps provide funding to<br />

the volunteer organization.<br />

Turnkey is a New Jersey-based business<br />

that purchases clothing from nonpr<strong>of</strong>its and<br />

repurposes the items for distribution to needy<br />

locations. The rescue squad is paid about 9<br />

cents per pound <strong>of</strong> clothing, said Leonard.<br />

Even donations that have sustained damage<br />

are assured a home, even if that home is<br />

unconventional.<br />

“Any glassware or plates that we can’t sell<br />

here, we give to the Rage Room in Pompton<br />

Lakes,” said Horacek <strong>of</strong> Jefferson. (In adhering<br />

to its name, the Rage Room is an entertainment<br />

venue that allows clients to release their anger<br />

by breaking items otherwise deemed fragile in<br />

a past life.)<br />

Damaged goods aside, the volunteers have<br />

seen their fair share <strong>of</strong> unusual finds discovered<br />

by customers that were paid forward—and<br />

back. This included a vintage cash register<br />

complete with a $100 bill that was donated<br />

right back to the store. And the purse with a<br />

bonus $20—the customer kept the purse but<br />

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not the money, said Leonard.<br />

On this recent Wednesday, Wildermuth was<br />

on-site, managing the overflow tent and making<br />

conversation with customers.<br />

He attests to the diehards who return several<br />

times a day and have become attuned to the<br />

inventory’s fast turnaround. Wildermuth is just<br />

as accustomed to the early birds, perched onsite<br />

before the store opens.<br />

Just ask Sandy Fumai <strong>of</strong> Milton, a thrift shop<br />

regular for a little over five years. It was word<strong>of</strong>-mouth<br />

that sent her here, and she has had<br />

many happy returns.<br />

“There are so many good finds in here,” she<br />

said, clutching a beer stein emblazoned with<br />

a Redcoat soldier. “And the people are really<br />

nice.”<br />

In addition to the beer stein, Fumai stocked<br />

up on a few CDs and DVDs. “Whatever catches<br />

my eye,” she said.<br />

Oak Ridge resident Barry Chan<strong>of</strong>sky has been<br />

a regular since the beginning, collecting china<br />

and crystal and scoring a Waterford bowl for<br />

$1, he said.<br />

“It’s unfortunate. It’s not a well-kept secret<br />

anymore,” he said half-jokingly.<br />

In addition to drawing regulars from the<br />

community, New Hope also attracts shoppers<br />

from surrounding areas, such as Kathleen and<br />

Fallon Pace from Stockholm.<br />

The mother-daughter thrift team were on<br />

the hunt for gifts and scored a few serving<br />

Become a part <strong>of</strong><br />

the lake’s history!<br />

Join our membership today at<br />

www.LakeHopatcongHistory.com<br />

plates in the process.<br />

The deep discounts or “steals” play an<br />

essential role in the store’s success, further<br />

cemented by location and word-<strong>of</strong>-mouth.<br />

“If it wasn’t for the community, we couldn’t<br />

do this year-round,” added volunteer Barbara<br />

Motchan <strong>of</strong> Jefferson. “One hand washes the<br />

other.”<br />

As for the future, Leonard has just one wish:<br />

“That somebody will eventually take over.”<br />

Perhaps they have some time to buy because<br />

the store also sells clocks.<br />

For more information about shop hours and<br />

donating, visit miltonumc.net/communityoutreach/new-hope-thrift-shop.<br />


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lakehopatcongnews.com 9

Left to right: Glenn Burke adjusts<br />

a telescope at the first star party at<br />

Hopatcong High School. Christine<br />

Munoz peers through a telescope<br />

to get a glimpse <strong>of</strong> Venus as<br />

Kristin Ransiear looks on.<br />

The Sky’s the Limit for New Club<br />

10<br />

Story by MICHAEL DAIGLE<br />

Photos by Karen Fucito<br />

Venus teased, dancing against infinite<br />

darkness as silver light from the rising,<br />

yet unseen moon feathered the edges <strong>of</strong> the<br />

clouds shifting across the opening sky.<br />

Some <strong>of</strong> the 20 or so astronomy fans<br />

gathered in the courtyard at Hopatcong High<br />

School on a chilly June Saturday night and<br />

peered into telescopes to frame the fluttering<br />

Venus crescent in the tiny circles <strong>of</strong> their lenses;<br />

others held one hand above their eyes to block<br />

the glare <strong>of</strong> security lights that illuminated the<br />

building. The bark <strong>of</strong> a fox broke the silence.<br />

The group gathered to celebrate the first<br />

star party <strong>of</strong> the Hopatcong Observatory<br />

Astronomy Club, the dream <strong>of</strong> Hopatcong<br />

resident Justin McCarthy, 23.<br />

McCarthy graduated from Stevens Institute<br />

<strong>of</strong> Technology in 2022 and works as a structural<br />

engineer for Titan Engineering.<br />

The party was also a celebration <strong>of</strong> the<br />

observatory that McCarthy built in 2018 for an<br />

Eagle Scout project while he was still in high<br />

school.<br />

The wooden shell, painted in Kelly green, the<br />

school’s colors, has a ro<strong>of</strong> that rolls open, walls<br />

filled with charts, an array <strong>of</strong> technology and<br />

a telescope trained on Polaris, the North Star.<br />

“The telescope tracks the movement <strong>of</strong><br />

Polaris,” McCarthy said, while on a smartphone<br />

he displayed the crescent image <strong>of</strong> Venus as<br />

seen through the telescope.<br />

Venus shows a crescent face when the sun is<br />

between the Earth and Venus, he said.<br />

The club is a registered 501(c)(3) and was<br />

established to support the observatory’s<br />

operation, upgrade the facility and fund a<br />

scholarship program for the high school.<br />

For McCarthy, the observatory melds two<br />

key interests: science and engineering and<br />

giving back to the community.<br />

Excited by the Apollo moon landings <strong>of</strong> the<br />

1960s, McCarthy, along with his father, Daniel<br />

McCarthy, and his uncle, Glenn Burke, attended<br />

LAKE HOPATCONG NEWS <strong>Fourth</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

the Stellafane Convention in Vermont in 2014.<br />

He returned from the long-running<br />

astronomy event and gathering <strong>of</strong> amateur<br />

telescope makers inspired to create his own<br />

observatory. He also donated an 8-inch<br />

telescope, which was the first telescope used<br />

in the Hopatcong facility.<br />

“I thought it would be a neat idea,” McCarthy<br />

said.<br />

It also filled a need for a new observatory, he<br />

said, since Lenape Valley Regional High School<br />

had shuttered its facility. The next closest is<br />

the Greenwood Observatory at Jenny Jump<br />

State Forest in Hope, which is open April to<br />

November. The site is operated by the United<br />

Astronomy Clubs <strong>of</strong> New Jersey.<br />

The availability <strong>of</strong> a local observatory was<br />

what brought Dan Duran <strong>of</strong> Lake Hopatcong to<br />

the star party.<br />

Duran, an information technology engineer,<br />

said he got hooked on astronomy in 2015 and<br />

bought his own telescope. But between the<br />

distance to his job out <strong>of</strong> the lake region and<br />

the distance and part-time stature <strong>of</strong> the Jenny<br />

Jump observatory, he was frustrated by the<br />

lack <strong>of</strong> dark spaces to observe the universe.<br />

The Hopatcong observatory fits that need,<br />

he said, and he became a member <strong>of</strong> the club.<br />

Duran’s observation is central to McCarthy’s<br />

intent: It is not enough to just build something,<br />

but that something should have a purpose<br />

beyond the thing itself.<br />

The observatory is not a project about him,<br />

but fills a need he perceived<br />

as a lake region kid.<br />

“I was always interested<br />

in astronomy,” he said, “but<br />

growing up I realized there<br />

was a lack <strong>of</strong> places for kids<br />

like to me to explore.”<br />

Thus, the club’s mission:<br />

foster an interest in<br />

astronomy for the local<br />

public; host age-appropriate<br />

events for local students; host<br />

star parties for the general<br />

public; minimize light pollution<br />

in the surrounding area; and<br />

equip the observatory with<br />

new astronomy equipment.<br />

And the most far-reaching<br />

goal: establish an observatory<br />

scholarship for Hopatcong High<br />

School students.<br />

The lake region saw<br />

McCarthy’s combination <strong>of</strong> community<br />

spirit and engineering skills in 2021 when, as<br />

a member <strong>of</strong> a team <strong>of</strong> Stevens students, he<br />

worked to define the conditions that were<br />

needed to return the functionality <strong>of</strong> the<br />

historic fountain at Hopatcong State Park.<br />

The century-old fountain was designed as<br />

both a public display and water-leveling device<br />

but had deteriorated.<br />

His comments at that time reflect his<br />

approach to the observatory: It’s personal.<br />

“I used to work at the park and saw how<br />

dirty and broken the fountain was,” he said as<br />

he took part in the project. “It’s a part <strong>of</strong> the<br />

history here. I’ve seen the old photographs<br />

<strong>of</strong> families enjoying the fountain. It was built<br />

along Lakeside Boulevard so the public could<br />

enjoy it.”<br />

The fountain is expected to be ready for<br />

display at its 100th anniversary in 2024, he said.<br />

Like they did during the Stellafane<br />

Convention years earlier, McCarthy’s father<br />

and uncle also attended the June star party.<br />

Burke, his uncle, brought a homemade<br />

telescope, a lightweight spindly framed model<br />

that was ready to assemble.<br />

Burke and McCarthy’s father <strong>of</strong>fered proud<br />

support and admiration, as they had done<br />

when the project was in its infancy.<br />

The elder McCarthy, a longtime member<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Lake Hopatcong Commission, sees<br />

Justin McCarthy leads an astronomy lesson<br />

for those in attendance at the first star party at<br />

Hopatcong High School.

that spirit <strong>of</strong> community activism in his son’s<br />

observatory.<br />

But it’s more.<br />

“We see the photos taken by the large<br />

telescopes from space and they are astounding,”<br />

he said. “But with this observatory, we can<br />

stand here on this tiny spot in the universe and<br />

see those stars and planets for our self.”<br />

Christine Munoz, a Hopatcong Middle School<br />

science teacher, taught Justin McCarthy.<br />

Grinning, she couldn’t contain her sense <strong>of</strong><br />

pride and joy at his accomplishment.<br />

She said the observatory and events such<br />

as the star party will open up the possibility<br />

for local students to connect with science and<br />

astronomy in more concrete ways.<br />

Munoz said she was looking forward to the<br />

day when the observatory and its technology<br />

are better integrated into the school’s science<br />

classes.<br />

On that June night, while the clouds<br />

overhead flittered in and out, McCarthy, ever<br />

the task-focused engineer, <strong>of</strong>fered a litany <strong>of</strong><br />

space objects that might be viewed if the sky<br />

opened up, especially the bright moon and<br />

satellites.<br />

“Communication and weather satellites<br />

travel east to west,” he said. “Spy satellites fly<br />

north to south to better observe more <strong>of</strong> the<br />

planet.”<br />

While waiting for clear skies, McCarthy<br />

conducted the night’s astronomy lesson on<br />

the terrestrial planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth<br />

and Mars.<br />

“Venus is one <strong>of</strong> the brightest objects in the<br />

sky, but is actually a dull brown when viewed,”<br />

he said. “That’s because <strong>of</strong> the dense cloud<br />

cover.”<br />

Mercury can be seen crossing the sun, an<br />

event called a transit. Mars is red because<br />

<strong>of</strong> iron. And Earth has weather and well, “it’s<br />

home,” he said.<br />

For information about the Hopatcong<br />

Observatory Astronomy Club, visit<br />

hopatcongobservatory.org.<br />

Follow the observatory at facebook.com/<br />

hopatcongobservatory.<br />

(973) 288-1800<br />

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lakehopatcongnews.com 11

Student Artists Paint<br />

Library Windows<br />

Story and photos by KAREN FUCITO<br />

The Jefferson Arts Committee hosted<br />

its first Window Painting Contest on<br />

a Saturday in June at the Jefferson Township<br />

Library.<br />

The competition was open to all schoolage<br />

children in the township, said Linda<br />

Santangelo, event chair. Three teams <strong>of</strong><br />

middle- and high school-age children<br />

participated. One team was made up <strong>of</strong><br />

five members from Girl Scout Troop 96725<br />

and another team was comprised <strong>of</strong> four<br />

members from Girl Scout Troop 96406. The<br />

third team was made up <strong>of</strong> three Jefferson<br />

Township Middle School students from<br />

special education teacher Theresa Fogel’s<br />

class.<br />

According to Santangelo, teams were<br />

required to submit a sketch <strong>of</strong> their artwork<br />

prior to the June 10 competition.<br />

“We wanted the artwork to be summery,”<br />

said Santangelo.<br />

Each team painted the outside <strong>of</strong> two<br />

side-by-side 41-by-44-inch library windows.<br />

All supplies were furnished by the arts<br />

committee. There was no entry fee.<br />

“We only asked the kids to bring their own<br />

snacks,” said Santangelo.<br />

Painting kicked <strong>of</strong>f just after 9 a.m. and<br />

Left to right: Representing the Curious Canvas<br />

team are Isabella Bavosa, Rachel Breen, Jaelyn<br />

Edore and Amanda Buccieri. Ashley Rosado<br />

working for team Pickles. Tegan Petretti, from<br />

team It’s Giving..Summer team, dabs on a cloud.<br />

teams finished by noon. Voting by the public<br />

was done on-site at the library the following<br />

week. Winners were announced at an awards<br />

ceremony on June 21, also at the library. Teams<br />

were judged on use <strong>of</strong> color and how well<br />

they executed the theme <strong>of</strong> their sketch,<br />

said Santangelo.<br />

Team Curious Canvas, Brushes, Books and<br />

Brains won first place with the likeness <strong>of</strong><br />

Curious George next to a stack <strong>of</strong> books and<br />

a field <strong>of</strong> bird houses.<br />

Team It’s Giving … Summer received second<br />

place for their version <strong>of</strong> a day at the beach.<br />

And team Pickles won third place for<br />

their colorful version <strong>of</strong> a library filled with<br />

bookshelves, kids and puppies.<br />

For freshman Jaelyn Edore, a member <strong>of</strong><br />

team Curious Canvas, the day was enjoyable.<br />

“It’s a good way to bring the community<br />

together,” she said.<br />

Kathy Buccieri, mom <strong>of</strong> Curious Canvas<br />

member Amanda Buccieri and co-leader <strong>of</strong><br />

Troop 96406, was more to the point.<br />

“They’re being creative, they’re <strong>of</strong>f their<br />

technology and they’re outside in the fresh<br />

air,” she said.<br />

Santangelo was pleased with the turnout.<br />

“The mission <strong>of</strong> the arts committee is to<br />

promote the arts,” she said.<br />

“And involve youth,” added Carol Punturieri,<br />

arts committee president. “We’re hoping that<br />

the kids involved in today’s event will bring<br />

more to the event next year.”<br />

Santangelo is certain the contest will<br />

become annual and is already thinking <strong>of</strong><br />

ways to expand the competition.<br />

“Next year will be open to adult teams as<br />

well,” she said, adding that the committee<br />

will also look into inviting local pr<strong>of</strong>essional<br />

artists to join as special guests.<br />



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High School Architecture<br />

Students Help Design New<br />

American Legion<br />

Story by MELISSA SUMMERS<br />

Photos by Karen Fucito<br />

From the charred remains <strong>of</strong> the longtime<br />

home <strong>of</strong> American Legion Post 245 <strong>of</strong><br />

Lake Hopatcong will rise a new and improved<br />

version <strong>of</strong> a hall that hosted dozens <strong>of</strong> fish<br />

fries, weddings, memorials and other social<br />

gatherings before it was destroyed by fire<br />

almost a year ago.<br />

While many will have a hand in rebuilding the<br />

structure lost on August 26, 2022, the veteran<br />

members determined to make it happen<br />

will have help from some young talent from<br />

Jefferson Township High School.<br />

Jason Nicholas, who teaches architecture<br />

and computer-aided design, or CAD, classes<br />

at the high school, recruited 16 students, some<br />

from his classes, to form the JT Design Studio.<br />

Under his guidance and in cooperation with<br />

the members <strong>of</strong> Post 245, the group is drawing<br />

up designs for the new building,<br />

Nicholas, a registered architect who began<br />

teaching at Jefferson four years ago, said when<br />

he saw the news about the fire, he immediately<br />

wanted to get involved.<br />

“I believe in something called ‘design for<br />

community’ so I wanted to pay back with my<br />

skills,” he said. “I thought it would be a really<br />

cool project to bring to one <strong>of</strong> my classes or a<br />

group <strong>of</strong> students—to bring them the real-life<br />

experience <strong>of</strong> what an architect does.”<br />

After speaking with his department<br />

supervisor and the district superintendent,<br />

Nicholas was put in contact with Jefferson<br />

Township Mayor Eric Wilsusen who reached<br />

out to Post 245 Commander Donald Doty.<br />

Doty is one third <strong>of</strong> the Rebuild the Legion<br />

committee that includes Eric Sudak, committee<br />

chair, and Russ Felter, former township mayor.<br />

It wasn’t long before meetings were set and<br />

the students got to work.<br />

While Legion members are looking forward<br />

to the new structure, the trauma <strong>of</strong> the fire still<br />

lingers.<br />

The fire was especially tough on Carl Gross,<br />

90, <strong>of</strong> Jefferson Township, who has been a<br />

Legion member for over 55 years. Gross had a<br />

front-row seat to the event that August day.<br />

The morning <strong>of</strong> the fire, his brother, Tony<br />

Gross, and his wife were preparing for a fish<br />

fry dinner when a grease fire broke out in<br />

the corner <strong>of</strong> the kitchen. Despite their best<br />

efforts, the couple could not get it under<br />

control.<br />

“My brother’s wife came running over to my<br />

house because my brother wouldn’t leave, so<br />

she figured she would get me and<br />

I’d get him out <strong>of</strong> there,” Gross<br />

said. “And I did, I came running<br />

over.”<br />

As Gross pulled into the parking<br />

lot, his brother, the prior post<br />

commander, had just come out.<br />

“We just stood there and watched<br />

the thing go. What a sight,” he said<br />

<strong>of</strong> the fire that quickly consumed<br />

the decades-old building.<br />

“When you are involved in<br />

someplace for 50, 60 years, it’s a<br />

lot <strong>of</strong> work, a lot <strong>of</strong> time,”<br />

Gross added. “And to lose<br />

everything … the pictures. It’s too bad.”<br />

Tony Gross passed away just months after<br />

the fire. “I think what did him in was this fire. He<br />

put his whole life into [the Legion],” his brother<br />

said.<br />

Doty, who has been a member <strong>of</strong> the<br />

American Legion for over 50 years, wasn’t<br />

able to get to the site right away on the day<br />

<strong>of</strong> the fire because the roads were blocked<br />

<strong>of</strong>f. “Everyone was calling, texting, so I knew<br />

about it right away,” he said. “We recovered<br />

very little—some ceremonial guns that we are<br />

trying to get refurbished and a few pictures—<br />

but nothing else.”<br />

Nicholas introduced the project to his<br />

students in October. “The first thing we did<br />

was come out to the site, and the students<br />

took measurements,” he said. “After we<br />

documented and photographed it, we put<br />

together a layout <strong>of</strong> the existing floor plan and<br />

then came up with the design concepts for the<br />

project.”<br />

Those working on the project are a mixture <strong>of</strong><br />

students enrolled in his classes, former students<br />

and a few with other interests. Savannah<br />

Peters, assisted by fellow videography student<br />

Kiley Shatzel, is filming the progress as part<br />

<strong>of</strong> a project for the Multimedia Broadcasting<br />

and Journalism Academy at the high school.<br />

Another classmate, Kyle Peters, contributed<br />

drone footage <strong>of</strong> the site.<br />

The group drew up floor plans, exterior views<br />

and met multiple times with Legion members.<br />

“They [Legion members] were very heavily<br />

involved in the initial drawings and the concept<br />

designs,” Nicholas said.<br />

The current plans are considered conceptual<br />

for preliminary cost estimates and could<br />

be adjusted as the project progresses, said<br />

Nicholas.<br />

Senior Ainesh Gobind, 18, a CAD student,<br />

didn’t know what he was getting into when he<br />

joined the team. “Architecture is not my thing,<br />

but I wanted to get out <strong>of</strong> my comfort zone<br />

a little bit,” said Gobind, who lives in the Lake<br />

Hopatcong side <strong>of</strong> town. “I thought, why not<br />

just go for it.”<br />

He’s glad he did, and he’s glad to have a<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>essional on his side during this project. “As<br />

long as we have Mr. Nick here, we are going to<br />

be OK. If he’s not here, we’re not OK,” he added<br />

with a laugh.<br />

Jacob Black, a 17-yearold<br />

senior from Milton,<br />

has always been interested<br />

14<br />

LAKE HOPATCONG NEWS <strong>Fourth</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

Top, left to right: Fire<br />

burns through the ro<strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong><br />

American Legion Post 245<br />

in August 2022. Jacob<br />

Black walks through<br />

the rubble with a set <strong>of</strong><br />

architectural plans. Nick<br />

Roberts makes changes to<br />

the design.

in CAD and architecture and<br />

was thrilled to take on the<br />

project. “I get to experience<br />

what actual architecture is<br />

like,” he said. “Instead <strong>of</strong> just<br />

designing things on my own,<br />

I’ll get to actually design<br />

something for someone, for<br />

the community.”<br />

The students are finding<br />

out firsthand that with a reallife<br />

project comes real-life<br />

stress.<br />

“You have to make everything perfect and<br />

correct. You have to fit into the lines <strong>of</strong> what<br />

they need, their budget. There’s a lot <strong>of</strong> things<br />

I didn’t know that I know now, like all the<br />

building codes and things we have to follow,”<br />

said Jacob, who will be taking this experience<br />

directly to Iowa State University, where he’ll<br />

pursue a bachelor’s degree in architecture.<br />

Sophomore Cole Havriliak, 15, <strong>of</strong> Oak Ridge,<br />

played a big part in the exterior design <strong>of</strong><br />

the new building. He takes pride in giving the<br />

veterans what they need—and more. “They<br />

wanted that old building back,” he said. “We<br />

were able to make the building a lot more<br />

modern, with a newer look and not outdated.<br />

And they were open to that, which I was happy<br />

about.”<br />

Cole suggested a cupola. “It will add more<br />

character to the building. We wanted to go<br />

modern farmhouse. It’s going to be blue. I’m<br />

really excited. It’s just going to look good.”<br />

Not all the students have architectural<br />

aspirations. Senior Paytan Grevesen, 18, is an<br />

Environment Science Academy student from<br />

Montville. She has become involved in order<br />

to study the effect <strong>of</strong> modern construction<br />

on the environment. “We had a class about<br />

ecological design,” she explained. “I think it’s<br />

important to think about things like that and<br />

how we can have a more environmentally<br />

friendly impact on the world.”<br />

Grevesen is taking a look at<br />

how environmental science<br />

can tie into the construction<br />

<strong>of</strong> the American Legion<br />

building. One way, she said, is<br />

to bring the outdoors in. “In<br />

the main hall, we are going<br />

to have more windows. The<br />

cupola could be opened for<br />

more natural lighting.”<br />

The group is nearing the end <strong>of</strong> the design<br />

phase, but Nicholas still insists that his<br />

students—like Nick Roberts and Joe Sporer,<br />

who both <strong>of</strong>fered creative alternatives to<br />

the existing plan at a May meeting—explore<br />

revisions and think about the cost analysis<br />

<strong>of</strong> each design they present to the American<br />

Legion. The process is ongoing, said Nicholas,<br />

who hopes a decision will be made soon.<br />

According to Nicholas, the work the<br />

students are doing is saving the American<br />

Legion approximately $15,000 to $20,000 in<br />

architectural fees.<br />

Doty and the committee are thankful for<br />

the support from the town and hope to<br />

restore Post 245 to its former luster in time<br />

for Memorial Day 2024. He’s also hoping the<br />

attention being paid to the Legion will prove<br />

fruitful in other ways, like membership and<br />

involvement.<br />

Left to right: With video camera in hand, Savannah Peters walks<br />

through the rubble after filming. Ainesh Gobind and Jason Nicholas<br />

discuss design elements as Kiley Shatzel looks on.<br />

“Members are getting older; we’re not<br />

getting new members. I’m hoping, with the<br />

new building, we get new, younger members to<br />

help out, take over stuff. It’s going to be nice.”<br />

According to Felter, an Adopt a Table, Adopt<br />

a Chair program will be <strong>of</strong>fered soon to help<br />

raise funds for furnishing the new building.<br />

Anyone will be able to purchase as little as a<br />

single chair or table or as many as they want.<br />

“It’s a way to contribute to the project and<br />

be able to say, ‘I helped rebuild the Legion,’”<br />

he said.<br />

“It’s a great project that gets us involved with<br />

our community,” added Grevesen. “And give<br />

back to these great guys who gave so much for<br />

us. It’s our way to give back to them.”<br />

To donate services or to help with the<br />

rebuild email Don Doty at donandarlene@<br />

yahoo.com or call Russ Felter at 973-224-3827.<br />

To donate money for the rebuild, send a<br />

check to American Legion Post 245, PO Box<br />

187, Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey 07849.<br />

lakehopatcongnews.com 15

NOW OPEN<br />

453 River Styx Road, Hopatcong, NJ 07843 thebeaconlh.com<br />

16<br />

LAKE HOPATCONG NEWS <strong>Fourth</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong>


LOCAL<br />

VOICES<br />

An admitted adrenaline junkie—she said she loves being in “the midst <strong>of</strong> the crazy”—Katelynn Peterson, is on track to chase<br />

thrills for a long time. At just 18 years old, the Lake Hopatcong resident volunteers for both the Jefferson Township Rescue Squad<br />

(an active member for two years) and Jefferson Township Fire Department Co. 2 (sworn in on March 1) and has already been<br />

on more calls than she can count. And if that doesn’t seem like enough, her summer jobs—part time at Jefferson Dairy and<br />

sometime dog walker—keep her more than busy. Having just graduated from Jefferson Township High School, Peterson has her<br />

sights set on being a trauma nurse and a paramedic and will be attending Moravian University in the fall.<br />


I was born in Illinois and adopted into an amazing family. They lived in Edgewater, New Jersey.<br />

They then moved to the house we live in now in Lake Hopatcong and that’s when they got<br />

me! I have lived here for all 18 years <strong>of</strong> my life.<br />


I have a 21-year-old special needs brother, Christopher; my mom and dad, Pam<br />

and Gerard; my grandma and grandpa, Louis and Verne Kiel; and my German<br />

Shepherd, Nikki, who I raised for The Seeing Eye when she was a puppy. I have<br />

her because she failed out for stomach problems.<br />


I am a very outgoing and courageous person. I try to do anything in my<br />

power to reach my goals—even if it scares me.<br />


I saved a dog from Lake Hopatcong when I was on duty recently. I ran over to<br />

the dock that she was stuck under and laid on my stomach and tried my best<br />

to get her out. I first tried to grab her front legs, but she kept going back far under<br />

the dock, on the rocks. Then she came close but fell into the water, and I scooped<br />

her out by the butt. Before I could process what was going on, I had the over<br />

100-pound pit bull in my arms, licking my face and alligator rolling over me<br />

on the dock.<br />


I would have to say my grandpa because he is just like me. He used<br />

to be a cop and has been super supportive with all <strong>of</strong> my first<br />

responder decisions and my career path. He has given me very<br />

helpful tips and always makes sure to text me to be careful<br />

whenever I’m on duty or I get a fire call.<br />


I volunteer with the Jefferson Township Rescue Squad and fire<br />

department near me. I am a buddy in the Unified Sports program<br />

<strong>of</strong>fered by the Special Olympics. I also volunteer as a puppy raiser<br />

for The Seeing Eye. We get them when they are about 6 weeks old<br />

and keep and train them until they are around a year old. Then<br />

they return to The Seeing Eye for their formal training. I have<br />

raised three so far. I also volunteer at a horse stable where my<br />

brother participates in special needs therapy riding classes. I<br />

take care <strong>of</strong> the horses during the classes, or I am a walker. I<br />

lead the horse around the pathway or in the arena while the<br />

kids are using weights or doing other exercises.<br />


I love to sing and act and have been in all my school’s shows. I<br />

play my guitar in my free time.<br />



I never truly liked ice cream until I started working at Jefferson<br />

Dairy. It definitely made me like it more!<br />

original creative strong<br />

I AM I AM I AM<br />

lakehopatcongnews.com 17

Historic Objects Help Tell Her Story<br />

18<br />

Story by MARIA VOGEL-SHORT<br />

Photos by Karen Fucito<br />

Ever since Amy Elizabeth Curry was a kid<br />

in Stoneham, Massachusetts, listening to<br />

her beloved grandpa talk about the 1920s, she<br />

has loved history. It was a wonderful childhood<br />

spent with her large family visiting museums<br />

and exploring the countryside.<br />

She was especially drawn to the tools, gadgets<br />

and objects that survived over the years.<br />

“It wasn’t just what you learned in school<br />

about history,” said Curry, who today serves<br />

as executive director <strong>of</strong> the Morris County<br />

Historical Society in Morristown and is a<br />

resident <strong>of</strong> Roxbury Township. “It is the<br />

historical objects. These objects tell stories, and<br />

they are a gateway to learning more about our<br />

culture and what life was like back then.”<br />

Curry explained how antiquated objects<br />

illustrate history in a way historical data cannot.<br />

“These objects interpret history,” said Curry, 47.<br />

“[Having them] is a way to preserve the integrity<br />

<strong>of</strong> a historical building or dwelling and a way to<br />

understand the past.”<br />

From Stoneham, Curry made her way to<br />

Happy Valley, Pennsylvania, thanks to a four-year<br />

swimming scholarship to Penn State University,<br />

where she earned her undergraduate degree in<br />

cultural and natural resource management.<br />

Her bachelor’s degree led her to the<br />

Saugus Iron Works, a National Historic Site in<br />

Massachusetts, where she worked as a park<br />

ranger for seven years. “I worked my way up the<br />

ladder from a park ranger to lead interpretive<br />

park ranger and education team leader,”<br />

explained Curry. “I managed educational<br />

programming for two national historic sites and<br />

researched and executed a Teaching American<br />

History grant.”<br />

Looking for a new challenge, Curry left<br />

Massachusetts and returned to Pennsylvania,<br />

this time landing in Lancaster at Millersville<br />

University, where she obtained a Master <strong>of</strong><br />

Arts in history, focusing on Civil War and<br />

LAKE HOPATCONG NEWS <strong>Fourth</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

Reconstruction.<br />

Her goal was to marry her park<br />

ranger experience with her newly<br />

obtained advanced history degree.<br />

That led her to quickly be hired at<br />

the Morris County Historical Society<br />

in 2012.<br />

Curry sees her trek from Lancaster<br />

County to Morris County as an<br />

interesting contrast from rural life<br />

to a more cosmopolitan life. But<br />

metropolitan or not, history is a<br />

study <strong>of</strong> how people live, she said.<br />

“The study <strong>of</strong> history is local,” said<br />

Curry. “In Morris County, it is about<br />

Washington’s headquarters and Washington’s<br />

winter encampment. But in Boston, it is about<br />

the Tea Party and the Mayflower.”<br />

With a new job secured in a different state<br />

than where she was living, Curry realized she<br />

had a short window <strong>of</strong> time to find a place<br />

to live. The search brought her to the Lake<br />

Hopatcong region, where she found houses to<br />

be somewhat affordable. The only caveat, she<br />

said, was the number <strong>of</strong> homes still dealing with<br />

damage caused by flooding from Hurricane<br />

Irene in 2011. She chose the Landing house she<br />

now calls home because she loved the fact<br />

that it had no back door neighbors and that<br />

the house could never get damaged by floods,<br />

being so high in the hills.<br />

“My mom and I came up [to the house] here<br />

by car, and the drive was so long that we felt<br />

like we were traveling to the moon because <strong>of</strong><br />

the high hills and side roads along the lake,” she<br />

said <strong>of</strong> finding her home <strong>of</strong>f the lake. “Most <strong>of</strong><br />

the houses in my price range had water damage<br />

and this house was high and dry,” she laughed,<br />

emphasizing the “high.”<br />

But taking the high road requires hard work.<br />

Curry said her mother calls her driven. Curry,<br />

who is in a long-distance relationship with<br />

a national park employee in Massachusetts,<br />

said she could describe herself in one word:<br />

passionate. The combination is realized in a<br />

From top, clockwise: Amy Curry outside Acorn<br />

Hall in Morristown. Curry stands among a group<br />

<strong>of</strong> clothed mannequins. Curry in one <strong>of</strong> the<br />

storage rooms at Acorn Hall. One <strong>of</strong> the original<br />

windows from Curry’s childhood bedroom<br />

adorned with family photos, including her with<br />

her grandpa.<br />

disciplined woman who sets goals and meets<br />

them. The results are palpable.<br />

The historical society is headquartered at<br />

Acorn Hall in Morristown, the group’s only<br />

structural entity. The building is a modest<br />

country home built in 1853 as a foursquare<br />

Georgian and modified in 1860 to the Italianatestyle,<br />

with a decorative trimmed portico and<br />

gray gables. There is also a carriage house onsite.<br />

From her <strong>of</strong>fice on the second floor <strong>of</strong> Acorn<br />

Hall, Curry has led the charge to preserve the<br />

three-story, mid-19th century building and the<br />

property’s carriage house and has helped secure<br />

a 25,000-object collection used to tell the<br />

history <strong>of</strong> Morris County.<br />

“The three most significant collections<br />

objects we own are Acorn Hall, the carriage<br />

house and the St. Cecilia 1886 stained glass<br />

window that is attributed to John Johnston, a<br />

rival and contemporary <strong>of</strong> Tiffany,” said Curry.<br />

With single-minded direction, she streamlined<br />

operations without adding expenses, which

helped correct previous shortfalls, including<br />

increasing the skeleton staff from three to seven,<br />

adding a research assistant, collections assistant,<br />

facilities manager and a membership and<br />

volunteer coordinator. She has implemented<br />

a long-term strategic plan that has forged<br />

partnerships with history-centered nonpr<strong>of</strong>its.<br />

“When I started here, there were days that<br />

I was here by myself,” recalled Curry. “Every<br />

Tuesday I would be alone and have to stop what<br />

I was doing to run a tour. I learned a lot from<br />

that. But now we have people to handle tours<br />

and day-to-day non-management issues.”<br />

She has also secured partnerships with the<br />

roughly 40 local historical societies within the<br />

county and integrated technology and social<br />

media into the collection to ensure that Acorn<br />

Hall maintains a prominent place in Morris<br />

County history.<br />

Since her start in 2012, Curry has spearheaded<br />

the acquisition <strong>of</strong> 80 grants, worth over $3<br />

million, to preserve Morris County maps,<br />

artifacts, objects and Acorn Hall itself. The grants<br />

also increased funding for historic preservation<br />

and cultural history initiatives. Acorn Hall hosts<br />

between one and three unique exhibits a year<br />

and is internationally known for its historic<br />

textiles and historical clothing collection, dating<br />

from as early as 1790 through to the 1970s.<br />

“I did not do this alone,” emphasized Curry,<br />

waving to the pictures and commendations<br />

<strong>of</strong> other people involved in the restoration. “I<br />

stand on the shoulders <strong>of</strong> some great people.”<br />

Curry said the work she does for the historical<br />

society can be time consuming.<br />

“This is a big part <strong>of</strong> my life. In 2012, we<br />

were reinstalling the original slate ro<strong>of</strong>. We<br />

started construction then and have been in<br />

construction every year since. It’s been an uphill<br />

climb. My whole life is about this job,” she said.<br />

The care and preservation <strong>of</strong> an old, ornate<br />

wooden structure, she said, is constant.<br />

Interestingly, when her mother renovated<br />

Curry’s childhood home with new replacement<br />

windows, Curry asked for the original windows<br />

from her old bedroom. “It was a little room<br />

only big enough for a twin bed, but I grew up<br />

there. I am not a junk collector, but I wanted<br />

to preserve the memory <strong>of</strong> that room,” she<br />

said. Her mother obliged and Curry is now in<br />

possession <strong>of</strong> both windows from her former<br />

bedroom.<br />

“One hangs in my bedroom, and the other<br />

hangs over my desk [at home],” she said.<br />

For Curry, the ultimate goal is to get back to<br />

Massachusetts to where her family is, to where<br />

her history began, but not before realizing the<br />

work still needed to be done in Morris County.<br />

“I give this work 100 per cent <strong>of</strong> my attention<br />

and I want to leave it better than I found it,”<br />

she said, adding, “I just want to pass it along to<br />

someone who is as passionate as I have been.”<br />

For more information call 973-267-3465 or<br />

visit morriscountyhistory.org.<br />


Text: 201-400-6031<br />



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lakehopatcongnews.com 19

Father-Son Duo Keeps Digging Away<br />

20<br />

Story by MICHAEL DAIGLE<br />

Photos by Karen Fucito<br />

The beginning <strong>of</strong> the Jefferson-based<br />

business Al Hutchins Excavating was no<br />

more complicated than this: “Got a machine,<br />

started digging.”<br />

That was in 1979, Al Hutchins Sr. said. He<br />

had been working for another contractor and<br />

decided to put his experience to work for<br />

himself.<br />

“I had been doing septics since I was 17,” he<br />

said, “so I got some equipment and went out<br />

on my own.”<br />

In 1981, he was joined in the business by his<br />

son, Al Hutchins Jr., who runs the company<br />

today.<br />

For the younger Hutchins, it was an easy<br />

choice to join the business right after<br />

graduating from Jefferson High School.<br />

“I graduated and went right to work,” the<br />

64-year-old said. “I just got to it.”<br />

Their plain-spoken approach allowed the<br />

business to succeed during a time when<br />

Jefferson, like the rest <strong>of</strong> the Lake Hopatcong<br />

region, was growing as part <strong>of</strong> a population<br />

shift in North Jersey that filled up towns along<br />

Route 80.<br />

In 1980, Jefferson’s population was 16,413,<br />

according to the U.S. Census. In 2022, the<br />

township had 20,517 residents and a median<br />

Top to bottom: Al Hutchins Jr. and Al Hutchins Sr. with some<br />

<strong>of</strong> the company equipment. The younger Hutchins at a job<br />

site on Raccoon Island.<br />

LAKE HOPATCONG NEWS <strong>Fourth</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

home value <strong>of</strong> $358,400.<br />

What the township also had was septic<br />

systems.<br />

What their business had, the son said, was<br />

the machine: a backhoe tractor and front-end<br />

loader. Perfect for digging septic systems.<br />

Thanks to a steep-sloping terrain and<br />

a state law banning the installation <strong>of</strong><br />

sewer systems across Jefferson’s extensive<br />

preserved landscape—the township alone has<br />

preserved 12,000 acres—Jefferson’s solid waste<br />

management system relies on individual septic<br />

systems.<br />

The younger Hutchins estimates the<br />

company has installed 50 septic systems a<br />

year since the beginning—more than 2,000<br />

systems—nearly all within a 5-mile radius <strong>of</strong> the<br />

company’s headquarters on Northwood Road<br />

in the Lake Hopatcong section <strong>of</strong> Jefferson.<br />

The limited range <strong>of</strong> the company’s territory<br />

is both a reflection on the type <strong>of</strong> work needed<br />

in Jefferson to keep up with demand and the<br />

source <strong>of</strong> sarcastic humor.<br />

“We had a job in Dover, and a worker joked,<br />

‘Oh, we’re traveling today,’” said the younger<br />

Hutchins. Dover is about 12 miles from<br />

Jefferson.<br />

His father had the same comment about a<br />

job in Hackettstown, some 15 miles away in the<br />

other direction from Jefferson.<br />

“That was a big travel day,” he said.<br />

Still, he admitted, sometimes the range<br />

from Jefferson stretches to 10 miles.<br />

Today, the younger Hutchins said, travel<br />

to a job could entail using a barge to ferry<br />

workers and equipment to an island three<br />

times a day, as they recently did for a<br />

homeowner on Raccoon Island.<br />

The lake region and Jefferson are home,<br />

the men said.<br />

The elder Hutchins, 84, and his ex-wife,<br />

Ann, raised two children: their son and a<br />

daughter, Donna, who lives in Florida. The<br />

younger Hutchins and his wife, Rebecca,<br />

are Jefferson natives. They have no<br />

children and Rebecca manages the<br />

paperwork for the business.<br />

One <strong>of</strong> the reasons the company<br />

has such a narrow service area is that<br />

it does not have to look far for work.<br />

“It’s all word <strong>of</strong> mouth. Our<br />

customers are local people,” the<br />

younger Hutchins said.<br />

The company does little<br />

advertising (Lake Hopatcong News is<br />

the exception) and word-<strong>of</strong>-mouth<br />

goes a long way in a close-knit<br />

community like Lake Hopatcong.<br />

“We always try to execute<br />

sensible solutions,” he said.<br />

He takes nothing for granted.<br />

“There is no shortage <strong>of</strong> work,” he said, but<br />

success depends on the company’s ability to<br />

complete a quality project. “We want to work<br />

well with the customer.”<br />

There is a reflective quality in his voice as<br />

he makes that statement: It is a measure <strong>of</strong> a<br />

man who knows his business with the ability<br />

to deliver a job and an appreciation that the<br />

reputation <strong>of</strong> the company his father started—<br />

and he now leads—is seen in the near-constant<br />

number <strong>of</strong> calls they get.<br />

“We rarely turn down a job,” he said.<br />

While both men said septic systems are<br />

a large part <strong>of</strong> the company’s work, the<br />

company also builds driveways, rock walls and<br />

foundations, and does site work, among other<br />

services.<br />

During the recent pandemic, which brought<br />

a burst <strong>of</strong> home sales and subsequent septic<br />

inspections and other business activity, the<br />

younger Hutchins said the company performed<br />

numerous demolitions.<br />

Notable projects undertaken by the<br />

company, the elder Hutchins said, are site<br />

work at Nolan’s Point, including the Windlass<br />

restaurant, the Lake Hopatcong Golf Club and<br />

an adjoining parking lot, which are all owned by<br />

Bela Szigethy.<br />

Hutchins said that work followed site work<br />

done for Szigethy when he built his lakefront<br />

house more than 20 years ago. (Szigethy also<br />

owns Lake Hopatcong News.)<br />

And the work rarely slows. In the middle <strong>of</strong><br />

May, the younger Hutchins said, the company<br />

was performing five jobs at once, including an<br />

installation on Raccoon Island.<br />

A constant in all the jobs the company<br />

performs, father and son said, is rock—granite,<br />

gneiss, marble and other hard stuff.<br />

“Rock is always part <strong>of</strong> the problem,” the<br />

younger Hutchins said with appreciation. “But<br />

we work with it.”<br />

Digging foundations in hard, rocky soil is as<br />

challenging as it sounds, he said.<br />

Rocky land, steep slopes and smaller spaces<br />

upon which to work, thanks to continued<br />

housing development, are all part <strong>of</strong> the<br />

challenges <strong>of</strong> working the lake region, he<br />

said. Each project requires more detailed<br />

engineering and careful planning.<br />

The presence <strong>of</strong> the rock influences the<br />

design <strong>of</strong> septic systems, Hutchins said.<br />

Septic systems are not just holes in the<br />

ground; they are engineered systems designed<br />

to capture and filter wastewater.<br />

What has changed over time, Hutchins said,<br />

is the engineering required to meet modern<br />

septic regulations. The standards have changed<br />

since the company was founded. The goal today<br />

is to produce more efficient septic systems and<br />

cleaner outflows that reduce pollutants that<br />

could enter the lake and aquifers.<br />

“The regulations are always changing,” the<br />

younger Hutchins said. “I understand it. It’s

important to protect the lake.”<br />

Those regulations, especially in Jefferson,<br />

have been responsible for continued work, he<br />

said.<br />

Each house sale now requires a septic<br />

inspection, and the inspection can lead to<br />

replacement <strong>of</strong> the septic tank or a new<br />

system, he said.<br />

It can also lead to high, sometimes<br />

frightening costs for a homeowner trying to<br />

sell the property.<br />

Replacement costs for any part <strong>of</strong> the<br />

system can range between $10,000 to $15,000,<br />

data shows, and new system installation can<br />

cost up to $60,000, depending on conditions.<br />

Old septic systems can still function<br />

properly, the younger Hutchins said, if they are<br />

well maintained.<br />

An important change in the industry, he said,<br />

is the new equipment.<br />

The old backhoe front-end loader has<br />

been superseded by smaller, more efficient<br />

machines, designed for specific types <strong>of</strong> work<br />

on a job site.<br />

“They are more agile, better designed for<br />

smaller worksites,” which are a growing part <strong>of</strong><br />

the company’s work, he said.<br />

The company has always had one goal, the<br />

elder Hutchins said.<br />

Whether it’s a septic system, a driveway or<br />

a decorative rock wall, “We want to leave the<br />

site better than it was.”<br />

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lakehopatcongnews.com 21

22<br />

Landing Family Opens Home, Fosters Dozens o<br />

LAKE HOPATCONG NEWS <strong>Fourth</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

Story by MELISSA SUMMERS<br />

Photos by Karen Fucito<br />

If ever there was a woman destined for<br />

motherhood, it’s Carla Suitt.<br />

This super mom, who celebrated her 70th<br />

birthday in April, has one biological daughter,<br />

two adopted sons with her husband, James,<br />

and has fostered 39 children.<br />

Suitt, <strong>of</strong> Landing, was born in Trinidad, West<br />

Indies, the fifth <strong>of</strong> seven children. She said her<br />

upbringing set the stage for her calling<br />

as a foster parent.<br />

Inspired by her mother, Pamella<br />

Rougier, Suitt learned to welcome<br />

anyone who graced their island home.<br />

“I believe my mom used to feed the<br />

neighborhood,” she said, with a bit<br />

<strong>of</strong> her island accent still showing<br />

through. “Any time you come to my<br />

house, my mother would ask you, ‘Did<br />

you eat yet?’ Always cook more, you<br />

don’t know who’s going to stop by.”<br />

Life in Trinidad was crazy, according<br />

to Suitt. “I was young, I did a lot <strong>of</strong><br />

things,” she said with an eyebrow<br />

raised. “We were teenagers.” At 16,<br />

she gave birth to her daughter,<br />

Alicia Rougier.<br />

“My mom, the whole village<br />

raised my daughter,” she said.<br />

Suitt enjoyed anything<br />

creative. She wanted to bake<br />

cakes and do things with her<br />

hands. “My mom said, ‘You<br />

have a little girl, you should<br />

learn to sew.’” She did, earning<br />

an associate degree in sewing,<br />

drafting and pattern design<br />

at John Donaldson Technical<br />

Institute in Trinidad.<br />

In March 1978, at age 25, Suitt<br />

moved to Brooklyn, New York,<br />

with her mother, two sisters,<br />

and Alicia—who was 7 at the<br />

time and still referred to her<br />

grandmother as Mommy<br />

and her mother as Carla.<br />

“It’s only when Alicia<br />

got to college, I said, ‘Stop<br />

calling me Carla. Start calling<br />

me Mother now,’” said Suitt.<br />

Suitt <strong>of</strong>ten visited a<br />

cousin in New Jersey and<br />

soon got a clerical job at<br />

Howmet Castings in Dover,<br />

where turbine blades were manufactured for the<br />

aviation industry. It wasn’t her ideal job choice,<br />

but it had one big benefit.<br />

“I met this guy, James [Suitt], and never went<br />

back to Brooklyn,” she said <strong>of</strong> the kind and<br />

distinguished man from Dover who caught her<br />

eye.<br />

In 1980, Carla Suitt got an apartment in Dover.<br />

It took two years for her daughter to join her<br />

because her mom and sisters were still holding<br />

a tight rein. “First, they told me, ‘You don’t have<br />

your own place.’ I got my own place. ‘Well, you<br />

don’t have a car.’ I got a car now. ‘Is it a good car,<br />

a running car?’” she said with a shake <strong>of</strong> her head.<br />

Once she and James Suitt were serious, they<br />

started looking for homes together and chose<br />

one in Landing, moving there in May 1984.<br />

Suitt waited until they were married that June<br />

before he moved in. “He always went back over<br />

to his parents’ house,” said Alicia Rougier-Walker,<br />

now 53. Suitt told her daughter she was setting an<br />

example by not allowing James to move in before<br />

they were married.<br />

The Suitts attended Mount Zion Baptist Church<br />

in Boonton, where in 1995 they met a 12-year-old<br />

girl named Shandora. She had been living with her<br />

grandmother but found herself needing a home<br />

and began staying with the Suitts.<br />

Rougier-Walker, who had been away at Army<br />

boot camp, came home to the surprise sibling.<br />

“She was going to spend the summer, my parents<br />

said. Just someone from church, that’s it, but then<br />

the grandmother just transferred everything to<br />

the Department <strong>of</strong> Children and Families [DCF].”<br />

DCF told the Suitts they’d cover medical<br />

expenses but didn’t discuss a foster payment. “I<br />

just wanted to help this child,” said Carla Suitt,<br />

who continued working full-time at Howmet for<br />

11 years. She just figured she’d pick up some parttime<br />

work for extra income to help defray the<br />

cost.<br />

So when a check arrived from DCF, the family<br />

was a bit confused.<br />

“We didn’t know what it was, so I’m like, ‘Ma,<br />

just return to sender,’” Rougier-Walker recalled.<br />

“So, we put it in another envelope and sent it<br />

back. Then, it came a second time.”<br />

And that, said Rougier-Walker, is when the<br />

Suitts found out that foster parents were given a<br />

supplemental income.<br />

Once the house was a certified foster home,<br />

the calls began. Tara and Alexa came in 1996. “The<br />

original girl didn’t like that,” laughed Rougier-<br />

Walker, who lived at home until she was 30.<br />

Some foster children were placed in their<br />

home for a week or two while their parents<br />

Top to bottom, left to right: Alicia Rougier-Walker visits with the Suitt’s first foster<br />

child, Shandora Miller, in December <strong>of</strong> 2004. William, James and Carla Suitt with<br />

Rougier-Walker. William Suitt, Rougier-Walker and Adam Suitt at Rougier-Walker’s<br />

college graduation in 2015. Rougier-Walker and William at their childhood home.<br />

Carla Suitt in her rose garden.<br />

(Some photos courtesy <strong>of</strong> the Suitt family.)

f Local Kids<br />

vacationed. Others stayed for up to two years,<br />

which is the time allowed for birth parents to<br />

make the changes necessary to get their kids<br />

back, according to Carla Suitt. The youngest was<br />

18 months, the oldest, 16.<br />

According to the Suitts, foster children in their<br />

home never wanted to leave.<br />

“They aren’t just eating macaroni and cheese,”<br />

Rougier-Walker said. “Mom is cooking for them.”<br />

Never straying too far from her true passions,<br />

over the years, Carla Suitt maintained jobs in<br />

a restaurant, bakery and fabric store and also<br />

provided child care (including for one <strong>of</strong> this<br />

reporter’s children). A skilled seamstress, she still<br />

takes on occasional work hemming dress pants or<br />

altering wedding gowns.<br />

She made a point <strong>of</strong> spending time with each<br />

child. “I make bread … I bake cookies … I braid their<br />

hair,” she said. The boys wore suits and the girls<br />

wore dresses for church and Sunday school each<br />

week.<br />

James Suitt, now 67, said children in their home<br />

felt safe and welcomed. “They are getting loved,<br />

they are getting attention, you are taking time<br />

out to listen and to do things with them,” he said.<br />

“The system knew, whoever was coming here was<br />

in good hands.”<br />

The Suitts met once a month with other foster<br />

parents. Often, they’d exchange kids’ clothes but<br />

not Carla Suitt. “They said, ‘Where you get your<br />

clothes?’ I said, ‘The store.’ They said, ‘You have to<br />

go to the thrift shop.’ I said, ‘Would you go to the<br />

thrift shop for your biological child?’ They’re my<br />

children, why wouldn’t I buy things in the store<br />

for them?”<br />

Suitt balked at parents who introduced only<br />

some <strong>of</strong> their kids as their own and some as<br />

fosters. “When you start separating them, what<br />

stigma are you putting in that child’s head?”<br />

In June <strong>of</strong> 2000, Suitt got the call about Adam,<br />

a 4-year-old boy from Mine Hill. His 2-year-old<br />

brother, William, was in Jersey City. “I asked, ‘Why<br />

are they separated?’ I’ll make room for both <strong>of</strong><br />

them,” she said. “First you take him out <strong>of</strong> the<br />

house and now he’s separated from his brother.”<br />

Adam Suitt, now 27, recalls never having space<br />

in his previous three homes. “I used to sleep in<br />

the hallway or living room,” he said. “In one home,<br />

they kept a whole space for the cat. Sometimes<br />

I’d go in and sleep with the cat. Here, we had our<br />

own room.”<br />

With three older daughters, Adam and William’s<br />

biological mother struggled to take care <strong>of</strong> five<br />

children. His dad was in and out <strong>of</strong> the picture.<br />

“I’m very blessed where I found myself,” he said.<br />

“Not many foster parents are willing to take care<br />

<strong>of</strong> children beyond their physical needs.”<br />

Two years later, Carla was told Adam and<br />

William’s parents would not be taking them back<br />

and that they were available for adoption.<br />

“They were signing <strong>of</strong>f their parental rights but<br />

only if the Suitts adopted the boys,” Rougier-<br />

Walker recalled.<br />

Carla Suitt was 49 and wrestled with the idea<br />

<strong>of</strong> permanently taking on two small children.<br />

“I started praying and asked myself why these<br />

kids came here.”<br />

The adoption was <strong>of</strong>ficial in September<br />

2002.<br />

“Taking on two personalities … two children<br />

I didn’t give birth to … but I didn’t feel that I<br />

didn’t give birth to them,” she said <strong>of</strong> the boys.<br />

“They are my children.”<br />

Despite obstacles, the Suitts worked hard<br />

to keep William and Adam connected to their<br />

biological family. The boys spoke to their<br />

sisters, and the Suitts would pick their father<br />

up and bring him to birthday parties. “We<br />

would take Adam and William for visits with<br />

their mom at DCF, then find out she didn’t<br />

show up,” said Carla about the scheduled<br />

meetings at the agency’s <strong>of</strong>fice.<br />

It was a bit <strong>of</strong> an adjustment for Rougier-<br />

Walker, who was 32 when the boys were<br />

adopted.<br />

“She said, ‘I’ve been a single child all my life—<br />

now I’ve got to share my inheritance,’” recalled<br />

Carla Suitt with a chuckle. “I told James this is<br />

what we are going to do. We are just going to<br />

spend it. There won’t be anything left to fight<br />

about!”<br />

Soon after the boys were adopted, the<br />

Suitts had seven children living in their home.<br />

James Suitt took money out <strong>of</strong> his 401k to buy<br />

a van.<br />

In 2007, the Suitts’ Landing home was<br />

expanded with larger bedrooms and an<br />

extra bathroom. Bunk beds in two <strong>of</strong> the<br />

four bedrooms were consistently filled with<br />

children over the next couple <strong>of</strong> decades.<br />

For many <strong>of</strong> those years, Carla said her<br />

husband worked 70-hour weeks, and the<br />

couple was able to pay <strong>of</strong>f the house.<br />

“I would call him at work and say, ‘James,<br />

they called me for another child.’ He’d say,<br />

‘Why did you call me? You know you’re going<br />

to take them anyway.’ I’d say, ‘Okay, love you,<br />

bye!’”<br />

Not every child was easy. Many had special<br />

needs or disabilities, but Carla Suitt would be<br />

there for them.<br />

“I always told DCF not to call me just because<br />

I have the room. I should be the last call they<br />

make. Call me the cleanup woman,” she said.<br />

“I’m not looking for a check. I’m not looking to<br />

babysit nobody’s kids. I’m looking to advocate<br />

for a child. That’s what I do.”<br />

One difficult case involved a 12-year-old<br />

boy named Ryan, who had been sent by DCF<br />

to Florida to live with an aunt, the only family<br />

member willing to take him. He had scoliosis<br />

and needed spinal surgery. The aunt would<br />

only agree to the surgery if she was paid as a<br />

full-time caregiver, so DCF called on the Suitts<br />

to foster him. “I started advocating for him,<br />

taking him to the doctor, the specialist,” said<br />

Carla Suitt. Ryan was able to have the surgery<br />

and stayed with the Suitts for about a year<br />

including recovery time, according to Carla.<br />

Then there was 3-year-old Joey, who was<br />

kicked out <strong>of</strong> day care because <strong>of</strong> his behavior.<br />

James Suitt was shocked. Rougier-Walker, not<br />

so much. She laughed at the memory <strong>of</strong> the<br />

precocious little boy.<br />

He definitely won Carla Suitt over. “Once,<br />

he went to the door and yelled: ‘Jesus, God,<br />

it’s me, Joey. I don’t want to leave this house!’<br />

He closed the door and said, ‘Mama, Jesus said<br />

I could stay.’ And I said, ‘If Jesus said you can<br />

stay, you can stay.’ Who am I to say Jesus didn’t<br />

tell him? He was something else.”<br />

One foster, Tyree, is now a firefighter in<br />

Somerset County. “He wanted some <strong>of</strong> my<br />

recipes to cook at the firehouse,” boasted<br />

Carla Suitt.<br />

James Suitt said they tried to take in mostly<br />

boys, close in age to their adopted sons. “If<br />

kids come into a home and there are no other<br />

kids, it’s tough, but when they see other kids<br />

it’s a different thing,” he added.<br />

“I would look at it like having another<br />

brother,” said Adam Suitt about his unique,<br />

extended family. “People would ask, ‘Who is<br />

that?’ I wouldn’t say my foster brother, I would<br />

say my brother. I would always see them as<br />

another brother. Some kids just needed that.”<br />

He would encourage the foster kids to share<br />

their feelings in ways they could not in other<br />

homes.<br />

“And my toys were their toys,” he said.<br />

“Sometimes when they’d leave, I’d give them<br />

something.”<br />

Often the children would come with<br />

everything they owned in a garbage bag,<br />

Carla Suitt said. But when they left, they took<br />

everything with them—<strong>of</strong>ten in a new suitcase<br />

or backpack.<br />

Once their sons were teens, the couple<br />

knew they were nearing the end <strong>of</strong> their time<br />

as foster parents. The last foster, Danny, lived<br />

at the home until 2018.<br />

Carla Suitt said she would do it all over again<br />

in a heartbeat. “I enjoy them. I cry when they<br />

leave. I wonder if their mother is giving them<br />

a bath, I wonder if they change their clothes.<br />

I hope she’s not keeping the diaper on too<br />

long.”<br />

Her husband said the couple “took kids that<br />

needed the love” and that their foster journey<br />

has been a joyous adventure with a lasting<br />

impact. “They’ve kept me young. You are part<br />

<strong>of</strong> them, and they are part <strong>of</strong> you.”<br />

“People do things for the wrong reasons,” said<br />

Carla Suitt. “I did this because I love children. I<br />

gave birth to one, but I fostered many. They’re<br />

all my children. And I did it because there was a<br />

need. I had the time and that’s what I did. And<br />

this poor man put up with it for me and my<br />

lovely daughter.”<br />

lakehopatcongnews.com 23

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24<br />

LAKE HOPATCONG NEWS <strong>Fourth</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong>




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lakehopatcongnews.com 25

Club Has Carved Out a 40-Year Following<br />

Story by ELLEN WILKOWE<br />

Photos by Karen Fucito<br />

It was a Thursday night, and the halls <strong>of</strong><br />

Jefferson Township High School were in<br />

full swing with after-hours activities. There<br />

was the unmistakable sound <strong>of</strong> music and the<br />

unmistakable scent <strong>of</strong> … wood?<br />

Yes, wood.<br />

A smell that intensified as passersby followed<br />

it seamlessly to its source: the school’s wood<br />

shop. Except there were no students to be<br />

found, unless you count the small group <strong>of</strong><br />

adults trying their hands at wood carving.<br />

The mood was, well, chipper, among the<br />

men and women who were trading tools and<br />

tips across two tables that could very well be<br />

defined as literal carving stations. There were<br />

no chips on any shoulders but plenty in the<br />

hands <strong>of</strong> members <strong>of</strong> the Jersey Hills Wood<br />

Carvers club.<br />

Founded by former Jefferson Township<br />

High School biology teacher Earl Post, the<br />

club is celebrating 40 years <strong>of</strong> bringing the art<br />

and craft <strong>of</strong> recreational wood carving to the<br />

public.<br />

“It started out as an evening class for<br />

adults to teach recreation wood carving,” said<br />

longtime member Bill Brunner <strong>of</strong> Hopatcong.<br />

“The course was very popular and many <strong>of</strong> the<br />

students returned semester after semester.”<br />

Despite its popularity, the course folded in<br />

1983 but the demand <strong>of</strong> the public prevailed,<br />

laying the groundwork for today’s club.<br />

“Eventually the club name was voted on, and<br />

we <strong>of</strong>ficially became the Jersey Hills Wood<br />

Carvers,” said Brunner.<br />

Forty years later, the club sticks to its original<br />

objective as per its website: “To promote<br />

interest in and appreciation <strong>of</strong> the art <strong>of</strong> wood<br />

carving to all.” The club further markets itself<br />

as a “small, diverse group <strong>of</strong> people sharing<br />

their passion, time, knowledge and joy <strong>of</strong><br />

wood carving.” There are no membership fees,<br />

just a simple interest in wood carving will do.<br />

As the club gained traction, members took it<br />

on the road, providing interactive wood carving<br />

demonstrations at the New Jersey State Fair in<br />

Augusta, at schools and for area Boy and Girl<br />

Scout troops.<br />

The club will once again be featuring demos<br />

for all 10 days <strong>of</strong> the state fair this year, which<br />

begins August 4.<br />

Club members range in skill sets from the<br />

carving curious to the carving connoisseur,<br />

such as Brunner who let his curiosity get and<br />

then make the best <strong>of</strong> him in 1988.<br />

“It was just something I wanted to try, so I<br />

purchased a how-to book, a knife and a block<br />

<strong>of</strong> wood and went to town,” he said. “I dabbled<br />

with it for a few years until we started having<br />

children, then carving got put aside for some<br />

time.”<br />

Having never lost interest, he stumbled upon<br />

the club at a carving show in Wayne and<br />

slowly made his way back to the carving<br />

board, this time with his 11-year-old son,<br />

Christian, in tow.<br />

“He took to carving pretty quickly, and<br />

it was obvious that he had the eye for it,”<br />

Brunner said.<br />

Besides, what better way to carve out<br />

some quality father-son time? And like<br />

father, like son—Christian is now 25—the<br />

duo work the craft show circuit and sell<br />

their wares online and at shows.<br />

Meanwhile, longtime member and<br />

former club president Henry Hanzo discovered<br />

his inner carver earlier in life when he was a Boy<br />

Scout. He took carving to the next level while<br />

serving as a dental tech in the United States Air<br />

Force, where he had to carve teeth out <strong>of</strong> blue<br />

wax and cast them on metal.<br />

After more than three decades as a<br />

telephone draftsman and repairman, plus a<br />

stint as a telecommunications instructor at<br />

Passaic County Vocational Technical School,<br />

Hanzo has since returned to his first love<br />

<strong>of</strong> woodworking, specifically carving and<br />

woodburning.<br />

Over the years, he has attended his fair share<br />

<strong>of</strong> carving shows, placing first in one <strong>of</strong> them.<br />

“I like the challenge,” he said. “It’s good<br />

because you get feedback from pr<strong>of</strong>essionals.<br />

You learn different techniques.”<br />

With a focus on woodburning, Hanzo<br />

remains open-minded to the creative process.<br />

“I like to do anything,” he said. “I like carving<br />

and then woodburning because it highlights<br />

the pieces.”<br />

Hanzo takes particular pride in having carved<br />

a skull out <strong>of</strong> ash wood and then applying the<br />

woodburning technique to it.<br />

“Everyone has their specialty,” he said.<br />

“We’re not a teaching club, but if you want<br />

to learn how to carve, you saddle up to<br />

someone—we’ll put you alongside a mentor,”<br />

he said.<br />

That mentor just happens to be the club’s<br />

current president and carving connoisseur Al<br />

Santucci <strong>of</strong> Rockaway.<br />

As a Jefferson Township High School<br />

graduate, he is more than familiar with the<br />

wood shop as well as the late founder Earl Post.<br />

“Earl was a teacher when I was a student,” he<br />

said.<br />

Artistically inclined since childhood, Santucci<br />

signed up for wood shop in eighth grade and<br />

has come back to the classroom as a club<br />

member.<br />

Top to bottom, left to right: Newcomer Michelle<br />

Egan gets instructions from Al Santucci.<br />

Santucci, Bilquis Ansari and Agatha Sheerin<br />

discuss a group project during a May meeting.<br />

Mike Muldoon uses a band saw to cut the shape<br />

<strong>of</strong> a duck. A carving by Agatha Sheerin <strong>of</strong> a dog<br />

in motion.<br />

26<br />

LAKE HOPATCONG NEWS <strong>Fourth</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong>

“I could always draw and make things,” he<br />

said. “I loved working with wood and took<br />

wood shop and drafting until I graduated high<br />

school.”<br />

He applied his hands-on nature in the<br />

workforce, first via drafting and then designing<br />

PC boards before winding down his career as a<br />

production engineer.<br />

Santucci learned <strong>of</strong> the club about five years<br />

ago through another member and is pleased<br />

with the result.<br />

“Many members have helped me improve<br />

my carving skills,” he said. His latest project is a<br />

wooden chain link.<br />

Now Santucci pays it forward by mentoring<br />

others such as Mike Muldoon <strong>of</strong> Sparta.<br />

Muldoon is so new to the club that the sawdust<br />

is still settling.<br />

“The first night here I was like, ‘Wow.’ There’s<br />

no messing around here, we just get right to<br />

carving,” said Muldoon, tipping his knife to<br />

Santucci for showing him the ropes.<br />

“Al said, ‘Sit down here and let me show you<br />

the five-minute wizard.’ He drew it on a paper<br />

and then a piece <strong>of</strong> wood and said, ‘Make a line<br />

here and there ….’”<br />

As a first-timer, Muldoon joked that the fiveminute<br />

wizard was more like a two-hour-andfive-minute<br />

wizard.<br />

“You go to town with a knife, but you can’t<br />

get too crazy too fast,” he said.<br />

A self-proclaimed wood-carving hobbyist,<br />

Muldoon worked in two hands-on careers: one<br />

in construction and the other as a mechanic.<br />

“I’ve done woodworking frequently on and<br />

<strong>of</strong>f and was always intrigued by carving,” he<br />

said.<br />

His intrigue, as well as word <strong>of</strong> mouth, led<br />

him to the club earlier this year.<br />

Since joining and completing his two-hourand-five-minute<br />

wizard, Muldoon has also<br />

gotten his ducks in a row—wooden ducks, that<br />

is, <strong>of</strong> which he has carved a few.<br />

“Everybody here is fantastic and very<br />

helpful,” he said.<br />

Michelle Egan, a graphic designer from Oak<br />

Ridge, could attest to that. Like Muldoon,<br />

she found out about the club through the<br />

grapevine and attended her first meeting in<br />

May, the same night Muldoon joined.<br />

“I needed to get away from computers,” she<br />

said. So, she subbed out a keyboard for a wood<br />

board and found Zen in the process. “This is<br />

like meditation,” she said, while detailing a<br />

small wizard.<br />

In terms <strong>of</strong> materials, club members tote the<br />

tools <strong>of</strong> the trade, always with the intent <strong>of</strong><br />

sharing.<br />

While members bring their own tools and<br />

source their own wood, the school provides a<br />

place to meet and a supply <strong>of</strong> wood scraps for<br />

the group’s yearly holiday project.<br />

Despite the Jefferson venue, the club has<br />

also attracted members from outside <strong>of</strong> town.<br />

A member for more than a decade, Agatha<br />

Sheerin <strong>of</strong> Stillwater took up wood carving<br />

“just for fun.” To date, she still marvels at the<br />

creations <strong>of</strong> her fellow crafters.<br />

“People make great stuff,” she said. “I am just<br />

amazed at the products.”<br />

On this recent Thursday, Sheerin was putting<br />

the finishing touches on a wooden Santa, part<br />

<strong>of</strong> a collection <strong>of</strong> ornaments that she and<br />

other members have been working on. Since<br />

joining the club, she is appreciative <strong>of</strong> the<br />

tool tutorials provided to her by the more<br />

experienced members she’s met along the way.<br />

Fostering the member-member relationship<br />

is exactly what Santucci hopes for while<br />

envisioning the club’s future. That, and growing<br />

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the membership in the name <strong>of</strong> what carves<br />

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“We are a friendly group <strong>of</strong> people that<br />

create all kinds <strong>of</strong> carvings and help and<br />

support our members. I would love the club<br />

to continue to gain members and the current<br />

members mentor and teach this craft to them.”<br />

The Jersey Hills Wood Carvers meets at<br />

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LAKE HOPATCONG NEWS <strong>Fourth</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong>



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Cigars, Bourbons and Philanthropy<br />

Story and photos by KAREN FUCITO<br />

Billed as a cigar and bourbon cruise on Miss Lotta—Lake Hopatcong’s only<br />

dinner boat—41 guests at the June event not only enjoyed high quality cigars<br />

and uncommon bourbons, they also helped raise $1,000. The event also served as a<br />

way to recruit new members for the Lake Hopatcong Elks Lodge.<br />

Funds raised helped defray the cost <strong>of</strong> a luncheon honoring veterans that was<br />

held at the Elks lodge on June 24. The luncheon followed two complimentary Salute<br />

to Veterans cruises on Miss Lotta, said Ed Parrillo Jr., Lake Hopatcong Elks Chairman<br />

<strong>of</strong> Veterans Committee. In the past, the luncheon had been held at American Legion<br />

Post 245 in Lake Hopatcong, but a fire last summer destroyed the building.<br />

“The Elks are pleased to be able to step in and host this year’s luncheon,” said Parrillo.<br />

The cigar and bourbon event was hosted by Miss Lotta’s six captains as a thank you<br />

to members <strong>of</strong> the community who have partnered with Lake Hopatcong Cruises over<br />

the years.<br />

The invited guests enjoyed a tasting put together by Capt. Lee Moreau, who presented<br />

bourbons produced in distilleries from the area in the south dubbed the Bourbon Trail,<br />

which are not available for purchase locally.<br />

Each guest received a complimentary cigar at boarding time, said Moreau.<br />

The cigars used for the fundraiser were sourced through an anonymous donor and<br />

were considered one <strong>of</strong> “the highest quality” cigars around, said Elks member Alex Banos.<br />

“This is a real community connection,” said Moreau. “We raised some money and<br />

hopefully we recruited more members for the Elks.”<br />

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Tague, Michael DeStasio and Kevin Babilonia. Bill Hirschfeld, Ken Lang, John Nitto, Kim Arbolino,<br />

Bill Orr, Lee Moreau and Tom Bush. Mike Smith, Carrol Quinn, Walt Rossi, Jerry Scanlon, Tom<br />

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30<br />

LAKE HOPATCONG NEWS <strong>Fourth</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong>

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Drawn to Lake Hopatcong<br />

Leyendecker, Pyle, Parrish, Flagg, Wyeth,<br />

Gibson, Remington, Rockwell. In an era<br />

when photography was still new, the sketches<br />

and paintings created by these iconic artists<br />

entered millions <strong>of</strong> American homes in the form<br />

<strong>of</strong> calendars, magazine and book illustrations,<br />

advertisements and art prints.<br />

Through their bold and original work, which<br />

appeared in popular magazines, American<br />

illustrators <strong>of</strong> the late 19th and early to mid-<br />

20th century played an important role in the<br />

development <strong>of</strong> both literature and popular<br />

culture.<br />

Although this commercial art was passed over<br />

by collectors for years, today these works are<br />

highly prized.<br />

American illustrations began to appear in<br />

newspapers in the late 1800s as publishers<br />

discovered that art increased sales and<br />

stimulated interest in a story. By the turn <strong>of</strong><br />

the century, magazines began to compete for<br />

mass circulation as editors added fiction to the<br />

mix <strong>of</strong> articles. These stories usually featured<br />

at least one illustration to set the tone, portray<br />

characters and catch<br />

readers’ attention.<br />

The work <strong>of</strong><br />

certain artists<br />

became instantly<br />

recognizable. Charles<br />

Gibson’s Gibson Girl<br />

became the ideal for<br />

millions <strong>of</strong> young<br />

women—and men.<br />

J.C. Leyendecker’s<br />

renderings <strong>of</strong> the<br />

34<br />

by MARTY KANE<br />

Photos courtesy <strong>of</strong><br />

the<br />



MUSEUM<br />

LAKE HOPATCONG NEWS <strong>Fourth</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

Arrow Collar Man attracted fan mail<br />

and even marriage proposals.<br />

Uncle Sam, drawn by James<br />

Montgomery Flagg, became an<br />

American icon. Frederic Remington<br />

helped popularize the adventure and<br />

romance <strong>of</strong> the West, while Howard<br />

Pyle’s work brought American history<br />

and the chivalry <strong>of</strong> the Middle Ages to life.<br />

The iconic images created by Norman<br />

Rockwell, perhaps the best-known American<br />

illustrator, captured everyday American life and<br />

became part <strong>of</strong> the nation’s culture.<br />

One artist considered an unheralded great<br />

among American illustrators had ties to Lake<br />

Hopatcong.<br />

P.J. Monahan was among New York’s most<br />

prolific illustrators during the first three<br />

decades <strong>of</strong> the 20th century. Monahan created<br />

advertisements, movie posters, magazine covers<br />

and commissioned art but produced most <strong>of</strong> his<br />

work for the “pulp” magazines <strong>of</strong> the day. (The<br />

name comes from the cheap wood pulp paper<br />

on which they were printed).<br />

Pulp magazines <strong>of</strong>ten featured illustrated<br />

novel-length stories <strong>of</strong> characters like The<br />

Shadow and the Phantom Detective and were<br />

intended for adult readers while comic books<br />

were aimed at children and adolescents.<br />

Although many respected writers wrote<br />

for pulps, these magazines are perhaps best<br />

remembered for their lurid, sensational stories<br />

and thrilling cover art. Little attention was paid<br />

to the work <strong>of</strong> pulp illustrators at the time, but<br />

in recent years, due to some <strong>of</strong> Monahan’s other<br />

work, his art has become better known and more<br />

collectible.<br />

Born in Iowa in 1882, Monahan began life as<br />

Patrick John Sullivan.<br />

At the age <strong>of</strong> 9, after losing both parents<br />

and a sister to an influenza outbreak, he and a<br />

brother were taken in by neighbors Rose and<br />

Jim Monahan. At 17, Patrick Monahan won an art<br />

scholarship to Drake University in Des Moines.<br />

He began illustrating newspapers in Chicago and<br />

St. Louis after graduating and soon won an art<br />

contest that sent him to study painting in Europe.<br />

Monahan married Louise Averill in 1905<br />

and soon moved to New York City, where he<br />

immediately found employment illustrating<br />

fashion catalogs.<br />

In 1907, he began painting covers for Leslie’s<br />

Weekly, a leading magazine. During the ensuing<br />

From top to bottom, left to right: Cover<br />

illustration from <strong>July</strong> 1, 1909. Cover illustration<br />

from August 3, 1911. Cover illustration from<br />

December 9, 1922.<br />

Pat and Louise Monahan at Hopatcong’s Pine Tree Point<br />

on Lake Hopatcong, circa 1920.<br />

years he painted for many popular magazines<br />

<strong>of</strong> the day, including Ladies’ Home Journal,<br />

Cosmopolitan and Hampton’s Magazine.<br />

Monahan earned $125 for a typical painting<br />

in the 1910s when the average annual American<br />

salary was under $750.<br />

In 1912, Monahan’s friendship with author Jack<br />

London led to his illustrating “Smoke Bellew,”<br />

London’s collection <strong>of</strong> short stories about the<br />

Alaska Gold Rush. Monahan was admitted to the<br />

Society <strong>of</strong> Illustrators the same year, where he<br />

became friends with James Montgomery Flagg<br />

and Norman Rockwell. During World War I,<br />

Monahan teamed with a committee <strong>of</strong> artists to<br />

help the war effort by contributing paintings for<br />

Liberty Bonds and recruitment efforts.<br />

Monahan’s work is noted for its composition,<br />

design and use <strong>of</strong> color. Contemporary art<br />

editors acknowledge his skill in depicting women.<br />

Roger Hill, an expert on American illustrators,<br />

wrote in his book, “The Fantastic Worlds <strong>of</strong> P.<br />

J. Monahan” that Monahan “brought a quality,<br />

not simply <strong>of</strong> art and draftsmanship, but <strong>of</strong><br />

femininity and romance to the women he so<br />

obviously loved to paint.”<br />

The artist’s best-known illustrations, however,<br />

are <strong>of</strong> a different subject altogether.<br />

Between 1913 and 1923, after his work caught<br />

the attention <strong>of</strong> author Edgar Rice Burroughs,<br />

Monahan painted all 13 covers for the Argosy All-<br />

Story pulps featuring Burroughs’ Tarzan stories.<br />

As Burroughs expert Bill Hillman explained in a<br />

feature on the website erbzine.com, Monahan<br />

“created stimulating images full <strong>of</strong> romance<br />

and adventure,” which perfectly captured the<br />

author’s concept for this character.<br />

An admirer <strong>of</strong> Leonardo da Vinci, Monahan<br />

was also a self-taught engineer whose inventions<br />

included a compact umbrella.<br />

In 1915, he designed the Monahan Rotary<br />

Tube Engine, an internal combustion engine<br />

that was patented. Shares <strong>of</strong> stock were sold to<br />

raise money and a workshop was constructed<br />

in Guttenberg, New Jersey, to build the engine.<br />

Although the technology was exciting, the<br />

venture ended in failure, the stock was worthless<br />

and the place <strong>of</strong> business closed.<br />

Many <strong>of</strong> Monahan’s close friends and associates<br />

lost money on their investment, which the artist

tried to pay back for the rest <strong>of</strong> his life. Cranking<br />

out illustrations for the pulp magazines in the<br />

1920s allowed him to maximize his earnings.<br />

During the 1910s, the Monahans lived in Bergen<br />

County, home <strong>of</strong> the developing motion picture<br />

industry. Working at Fox Studios, Monahan<br />

painted portraits <strong>of</strong> such early movie stars as<br />

Tom Mix, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks.<br />

Living in New Jersey also brought Lake<br />

Hopatcong to Monahan’s attention.<br />

The August 30, 1919 issue <strong>of</strong> the Lake<br />

Hopatcong Breeze noted that “P.J. Monahan and<br />

family, <strong>of</strong> Woodcliff, NJ, will spend the month <strong>of</strong><br />

September at the Point Camp.”<br />

The family soon bought a summer cottage,<br />

known as Noisy Nook, between Pine Tree Point<br />

and Northwood. Over the next decade plus, the<br />

Breeze frequently mentioned the Monahans<br />

entertaining guests and the activities <strong>of</strong> their<br />

children. Louise Monahan and the children<br />

stayed at the lake all summer while Monahan<br />

commuted. It was said that he kept no art<br />

supplies at the bungalow. One <strong>of</strong> his favorite<br />

sayings was, “when you work, you work hard and<br />

when you play, you play hard.”<br />

In 1924, the Monahans bought a 32-acre farm<br />

in Mount Fern, Randolph Township. An art studio<br />

was created in the barn. Horses, cows, chickens<br />

and pigs were tended by Louise and the children,<br />

and the youngest Monahan child was born there<br />

in <strong>July</strong> 1924.<br />

Sadly, a fire in 1928 destroyed the studio along<br />

with Monahan’s supplies, artistic library and 200<br />

<strong>of</strong> his paintings.<br />

Soon after, the artist suffered an injury in<br />

a traffic accident, which left him with severe<br />

headaches and evidently led to the cerebral<br />

hemorrhage that caused his death in November<br />

<strong>of</strong> 1931 at the age <strong>of</strong> 49.<br />

Monahan was buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery<br />

in Wharton. Louise raised their eight children<br />

on the farm and never remarried. She became<br />

an inspector at Picatinny Arsenal, operated a<br />

Shamrock Dairy store in Mount Fern and was<br />

an active member <strong>of</strong> the Rutgers Agriculture<br />

Extension, where she was known for her prizewinning<br />

flowers and poultry.<br />

Louise Monahan died at age 84 in 1968. Several<br />

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<strong>of</strong> the Monahan children stayed in the area. Son,<br />

Joe, resided at Nolan’s Point until his death in<br />

2002. In fact, I had the pleasure <strong>of</strong> playing s<strong>of</strong>tball<br />

with one <strong>of</strong> P.J. Monahan’s great-grandsons<br />

during my career at Picatinny.<br />

In 2007, the museum acquired an original<br />

Monahan painting. Depicting a steamship, the<br />

work is now proudly displayed next to a vintage<br />

copy <strong>of</strong> the September 28, 1912 issue <strong>of</strong> Leslie’s,<br />

whose cover it graces.<br />

Roger Hill described Monahan’s life as “very<br />

exciting and productive … filled with both a<br />

love for his family and a drive to work hard at<br />

the easel,” adding that, though his life and career<br />

were cut short by a quirk <strong>of</strong> fate, “he left us with<br />

a legacy <strong>of</strong> great beauty.”<br />

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lakehopatcongnews.com 35



Story by ERIKA SIMMONS<br />

Recipe by BRITTNEY SIMMONS<br />

Photos by KAREN FUCITO<br />

Editor’s Note: Regular columnist Barbara Simmons<br />

is on an extended vacation in Europe. Filling in<br />

while she is away are daughter Erika and daughterin-law<br />

Brittney.<br />

grew up blessed with a mother who adores<br />

I cooking. (She also adores my brother and<br />

me, but this is not the point at the moment!)<br />

You all know her as Barbara Simmons, the usual<br />

writer <strong>of</strong> this column. Maybe you have even<br />

tried and saved some <strong>of</strong> her recipes.<br />

Throughout my childhood, my mom was<br />

always excited to experiment with unique<br />

ingredients and create new dishes on a weekly<br />

basis. This wasn’t just a once a month “new dish<br />

alert.” This was literally every week—something<br />

culturally new and different to try on our plates.<br />

(I will never ever forget the first time I saw an<br />

octopus tentacle sprawled out on a plate, and<br />

she told us it was a freakin’ salad!)<br />

Mom wasn’t just throwing down spiffed up<br />

new renditions <strong>of</strong> mac n’ cheese; this was full<br />


Growing Up in a<br />

Foodie Family<br />

on!<br />

She would get into<br />

homemade focaccia<br />

bread kicks, make gyro<br />

sandwiches with lamb she<br />

sourced from a butcher<br />

in Hackensack or stir-fry<br />

up some walnut chicken<br />

Brittney Simmons and<br />

Erika Simmons<br />

(a Chinese dish she learned how to make in<br />

college from her roommate’s mom).<br />

I’ve got so many memories <strong>of</strong> every goulash,<br />

carbonara, Thai peanut coconut shrimp, Greek<br />

salad, Turkish kibbeh. It was an adventurous ride!<br />

My point here is that I feel very lucky and am<br />

so grateful for the exposure and teachings in the<br />

world <strong>of</strong> food that my mom bestowed upon us.<br />

(I’ll speak for my brother and dad here, too!)<br />

She would quiz us to look for different flavors<br />

in our mouths: “Okay, who can guess what’s in<br />

this sauce?” “Mmmmm, garlic? Chipotle chile?<br />

Vinegar? A little sugar?”<br />

I believe my now sister-in-law, Brittney, would<br />

have the same thing to say about this wonderful<br />

woman we call mom. Brittney once referred to<br />

my mom as her “palate expander.”<br />

Brittney came into our family 11 years ago. She<br />

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and my brother, Francis, <strong>of</strong>ten cooked<br />

together when they started dating. (I<br />

remember a strong smoothie-era early<br />

on.)<br />

My mom’s natural love <strong>of</strong> teaching<br />

and Brittney’s love <strong>of</strong> learning and<br />

perfecting—especially around food—<br />

became quite a delightful match.<br />

And voilà, an extraordinary cooking duo<br />

was formed.<br />

Together, they create some <strong>of</strong> the most<br />

fantastic—and very difficult to execute—<br />

dinners I’ve ever had in my life. I’m talking<br />

recipes with over 50 directions, which is<br />

a little out <strong>of</strong> my league but, hey, I am here to<br />

appreciate!<br />

Last summer our family got on this Korean<br />

barbecue kick. I’m not sure who or where it<br />

started, but I am relishing in it all!<br />

The flavor pr<strong>of</strong>iles in Korean cooking are vast,<br />

exciting, bright, powerful and succulent. A true<br />

party in your mouth.<br />

The contrast <strong>of</strong> textures plays <strong>of</strong>f all those<br />

fantastic, unusual flavors, and you’re transported<br />

into another world. Korea, perhaps?<br />

The recipe here is the best summer dish you<br />

could ever show <strong>of</strong>f: Brittney’s own Korean<br />

barbecue tacos. I don’t think I’ve come across a<br />

finer shredded slaw than hers.<br />

Brittney takes home cooking to a new level.<br />

Every aspect <strong>of</strong> a dish she puts out is so well<br />

executed and truly beautiful.<br />

When she “throws” something together,<br />

expect to be wowed.<br />

Her curiosity for new flavors and the refined<br />

confidence in her skill are just a few <strong>of</strong> the<br />

things I truly admire about her.<br />

Boy, I’m lucky. I’ve been graced by the cooking<br />

gods with an Oma, a mother and a sister-in-law<br />

who are talented chefs!<br />

Anyway, onto the recipe.<br />

Meat goes into the Crock-Pot, you go out on<br />

the boat, you come back, whip up a quick slaw<br />

and a fancy mayo—bam!—the whole crew is in<br />

awe.<br />

And then you fall asleep kissed by the Lake<br />

Hopatcong sun and live happily ever after.<br />

You’re welcome, from the Simmons.<br />

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Korean Short Rib Tacos<br />

Serves 4-6<br />

This recipe is adaptable and can be served with toppings <strong>of</strong> your<br />

liking.<br />

Gochujang, a Korean condiment, is a spicy paste used in Korean<br />

cooking and is made from red chili peppers, fermented soybeans, rice<br />

and salt. It has become widely available, and we’ve been able to find it<br />

at our local supermarket. Check your local Korean greengrocers, too.<br />

You can substitute the gochujang in this recipe with 1 tablespoon ketchup mixed with 1<br />

tablespoon light miso paste (your supermarket should have miso paste) and 2 teaspoons <strong>of</strong><br />

Sriracha sauce.<br />

The toppings for the tacos listed here are our personal favorites. See variations for more ideas.<br />

Ingredients<br />

For the short ribs:<br />

1 medium yellow onion, chopped<br />

2 tablespoons chopped garlic<br />

2 tablespoons grated ginger<br />

2 cups low-sodium beef broth<br />

½ cup low-sodium soy sauce<br />

¼ cup brown sugar<br />

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar<br />

2 tablespoons gochujang<br />

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil<br />

salt and freshly ground black pepper<br />

3-4 pounds bone-in short ribs (about 6)<br />

1 tablespoon cornstarch<br />

8 s<strong>of</strong>t corn or flour taco tortillas<br />

kimchi, for serving<br />

For the sunset cabbage slaw:<br />

1 lime, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)<br />

2 tablespoons olive oil<br />

1 tablespoon honey<br />

1 teaspoon sesame oil<br />

½ small head red cabbage, shredded<br />

½ small head green cabbage,<br />

shredded<br />

2 medium carrots, grated<br />

2 green onions, chopped, salt and pepper<br />

For the gochujang mayo:<br />

¼ cup mayo<br />

½ teaspoon gochujang<br />

juice <strong>of</strong> ½ lime (about 1 tablespoon or to taste)<br />

Procedure<br />

1. Add the first nine ingredients for the short ribs into the slow cooker. Stir to combine<br />

the brown sugar and gochujang.<br />

2. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper on all sides.<br />

3. Heat 1-2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil (canola, vegetable, etc.) on medium-high in a<br />

heavy bottomed pan.<br />

4. When the oil is hot, add short ribs to the pan and brown on all sides. This should take<br />

2-3 minutes per side. You may need to work in batches, so you don’t crowd the pan.<br />

5. Transfer the browned short ribs to the slow cooker, meat side down.<br />

6. Set the slow cooker to high and cook for 4-6 hours, or until the meat is fork tender<br />

and falling <strong>of</strong>f the bone.<br />

7. When the meat is done, skim some <strong>of</strong> the fat <strong>of</strong>f the top and discard.<br />

8. Spoon out approximately 2 tablespoons <strong>of</strong> the liquid and combine with the cornstarch<br />

in a small bowl. Stir until smooth. Pour cornstarch mixture back into the slow cooker,<br />

stir and continue cooking uncovered on high for about 20 minutes.<br />

9. Remove the short ribs from the liquid, shred the meat and discard the bone and any<br />

pieces <strong>of</strong> fat you don’t want.<br />

10. Spoon the desired amount <strong>of</strong> the cooking liquid over the shredded meat.<br />

11. In a bowl, combine the wet ingredients for the sunset cabbage slaw. Add the shredded<br />

cabbage, carrots and green onions and toss. Season with salt and pepper.<br />

12. In another bowl, combine all ingredients for the gochujang mayo.<br />

13. Heat tortillas in a pan for a few seconds on each<br />

side. Cover to keep warm.<br />

You can serve everything separately and have<br />

guests assemble their own tacos.<br />

Here are some other ideas for taco toppings:<br />

Mango salsa Asian cucumber salad<br />

Lime crema Pickled red onions<br />

Sliced avocado Toasted sesame seeds<br />

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lakehopatcongnews.com 37

WORDS OF<br />


“You’re Gonna Need<br />

a Bigger Boat”<br />

Story and photo by HEATHER SHIRLEY<br />

Ahh, summer in New Jersey. There’s not<br />

much better than it, is there?<br />

Long days full <strong>of</strong> sunshine lure us out on the<br />

lake and down to the shore. Both are fantastic<br />

destinations. Both present unique, complex<br />

ecosystems that are vibrant and wondrous.<br />

An ecosystem describes “a community <strong>of</strong><br />

living and non-living things that work together,”<br />

according to PBS. The size <strong>of</strong> the community<br />

doesn’t matter; complete ecosystems can be<br />

found in a single tide pool, a lake, a terrarium on<br />

your desk or different zones <strong>of</strong> the ocean (tidal,<br />

deep water, etc.)<br />

Every aspect <strong>of</strong> an ecosystem works together,<br />

in balance, to keep the community thriving,<br />

including air, soil, plant matter and a variety <strong>of</strong><br />

animals. Among the most important animals are<br />

predators, especially apex predators, which sit at<br />

the top <strong>of</strong> the food chain.<br />

Studies repeatedly show that when these<br />

predators are removed or depleted, the entire<br />

ecosystem fails. (The Natural Resources Defense<br />

Council <strong>of</strong>fers good information about this<br />

phenomenon. Go to www.nrdc.org/sites/<br />

default/files/predatorimportance.pdf to learn<br />

more.)<br />

If predators are thriving, it means an ecosystem<br />

is also thriving. Given this, I thought it would<br />

be interesting to learn more about the aquatic<br />

predators <strong>of</strong> our favorite summer destinations.<br />

In the Musconetcong watershed, which<br />

encompasses Lake Hopatcong, the apex aquatic<br />

predator is a fish known as a muskellunge or<br />

“muskie” for short.<br />

Though not good for eating, these amazing<br />

creatures are coveted game fish, therefore, catch<br />

and release practices are encouraged.<br />

Though muskellunge are not native to New<br />

Jersey, they were first reported here in 1900, in<br />

Greenwood Lake, according to the United States<br />

Geological Survey. According to Laurie Murphy,<br />

38<br />

LAKE HOPATCONG NEWS <strong>Fourth</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong><br />

owner <strong>of</strong> Dow’s Boat Rental in Jefferson, the<br />

muskie is fished regularly by a handful <strong>of</strong> local<br />

fishermen on Lake Hopatcong.<br />

These elusive fish are strikingly beautiful, with<br />

elongated silvery bodies that can be covered on<br />

their sides with stripes, spots or almost leopardlooking<br />

patterns. Muskies average 2 to 4 feet<br />

in length and 15 to 35 pounds, although some<br />

record holders have been twice that size.<br />

They have tremendous, long jaws with large<br />

canine teeth. These fish prefer clear waters and<br />

establish two ranges in summer, one shallower<br />

and warmer, the other deeper and cooler. They<br />

patrol both, regularly searching for food.<br />

Almost anything constitutes their prey; any<br />

fish (including other muskies), muskrats, mice,<br />

rats, frogs, even ducks. They can eat prey that is<br />

two-thirds their body size. Yowza!<br />

Muskies spawn in late spring, and the young<br />

grow to 12 inches long by November <strong>of</strong> their<br />

first year. As young fish they are vulnerable to<br />

a variety <strong>of</strong> other predators, but as adults, only<br />

humans and bald eagles pose a threat.<br />

They typically live for 12 to 18 years, and there<br />

are records <strong>of</strong> 30-year-old muskies. Makes you<br />

want to get out your fishing rod, right?<br />

Or are you instead rethinking a swim in the<br />

lake? Are you tempted to drive to seaside points<br />

south, instead?<br />

Of course, in the ocean, the apex predators<br />

are sharks. New Jersey’s bays and marshes serve<br />

as nurseries for three species <strong>of</strong> sharks: the<br />

smooth dogfish, the sand tiger shark and the<br />

sandbar shark. Of these, sandbar sharks are the<br />

most common.<br />

Each species gives birth to live young in places<br />

like Little Egg Harbor and Barnegat Bay. The<br />

juveniles, also called pups, are then abandoned<br />

and left to manage on their own.<br />

The pups take refuge hiding in the grasses<br />

<strong>of</strong> estuaries. There they hunt for fish and<br />

crustaceans, growing until they’re large enough<br />

to try out the open ocean.<br />

Young sharks that survive this initial foray into<br />

the Atlantic usually return to the sanctuary <strong>of</strong><br />

their youth. They spend another year there in<br />

relative safety, eating, growing and developing<br />

the skills necessary to survive.<br />

Once they leave their estuary home for good,<br />

they spend their life at sea, only returning to the<br />

bays to birth more pups.<br />

In addition to the breeding species <strong>of</strong> sharks,<br />

New Jersey waters also host annual visiting shark<br />

species such as the hammerhead, basking, mako,<br />

thresher and the big guy himself, the great white.<br />

Whether lauded by Discovery Channel’s Shark<br />

Week or vilified by Hollywood and uninformed<br />

people, sharks fascinate us. Given that, it would<br />

seem we would want to do more to protect<br />

them.<br />

But like so much <strong>of</strong> our wildlife and natural<br />

resources, sharks and their ecosystems are under<br />

threat from more frequent storms and sea level<br />

rise. Both affect salinity and stability <strong>of</strong> fragile<br />

Top to bottom:<br />

The author shot<br />

this photo at an<br />

aquarium.<br />

Lake Hopatcong’s<br />

Bob Neals<br />

caught a muskie<br />

beneath the ice<br />

at Monksville<br />

Reservoir in<br />

January, 1997.<br />

Photo from NJDEP<br />

website.<br />

ecosystems. The Nature Conservancy, thankfully,<br />

is making promising strides to combat this and<br />

hopes to expand its progress to more areas <strong>of</strong><br />

New Jersey and beyond.<br />

So, gentle readers, enjoy the lovely summer<br />

days. And as you cool <strong>of</strong>f and swim or dangle<br />

your feet in the lake or ocean, try not to think<br />

about what lurks below.<br />

Dunnn dunn…duuuunnn dunn…duuuunnn<br />

dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun<br />

duuuunnn dun!<br />


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72 Eyland Ave, Succasunna NJ 07876<br />

www.RoxburyArtsAlliance.org<br />


Delicious Dining. Incredible Views.<br />

Lakeside Dining<br />

Daily Chef Specials<br />

On & Off-site Catering<br />



THE MENU<br />





45 Nolan’s Point Park Rd. Lake Hopatcong, NJ • 973-663-3190 • thewindlass<br />

Fresh air and fun await<br />

aboard Miss Lotta<br />






AND MORE!<br />



37 nolan’s point park rd Lake hopatcong, NJ LHCRUISES LAKE HOPATCONG CRUISES<br />

lakehopatcongnews.com 39

directory<br />



Al Hutchins Excavating<br />

973-663-2142<br />

973-713-8020<br />

Lakeside Construction<br />

151 Sparta-Stanhope Rd., Hopatcong<br />

973-398-4517<br />

Northwest Explosives<br />

PO Box 806, Hopatcong<br />

973-398-6900<br />

info@northwestexplosives.com<br />



Lake Hopatcong Adventure<br />

973-663-1944<br />

lhadventureco.com<br />

Lake Hopatcong Cruises<br />

Miss Lotta (Dinner Boat)<br />

37 Nolan’s Pt. Park Rd., LH<br />

973-663-5000<br />

lhcruises.com<br />

Lake Hopatcong Mini Golf Club<br />

37 Nolan's Pt. Park Rd., LH<br />

973-663-0451<br />

lhgolfclub.com<br />

NJ Electric Boat Rental<br />

NJeBoats.com<br />

Roxbury Arts Alliance<br />

72 Eyland Ave., Succasunna<br />

973-945-0284<br />

roxburyartsalliance.org<br />


Central Comfort<br />

100 Nolan’s Point Rd., LH<br />

973-361-2146<br />

Evening Star<br />

LED Deck/Dock Lights<br />

eveningstarlighting.com<br />

Homestead Lawn Sprinkler<br />

5580 Berkshire Valley Rd., OR<br />

973-208-0967<br />

homesteadlawnsprinkler.com<br />

Happs Kitchen & Bath<br />

Sparta<br />

973-729-4787<br />

happskitchen.com<br />

Jefferson Recycling<br />

710 Route 15 N Jefferson<br />

973-361-1589<br />

jefferson-recycling.com<br />

Martin Design Group<br />

973-584-5111<br />

martinnurserynj.com<br />

The Polite Plumber<br />

973-398-0875<br />

thepoliteplumber.com<br />

Royalty Cleaning Services<br />

973-309-2858<br />

royaltycleaningserv.com<br />

Sacks Paint & Wallpaper<br />

52 N Sussex St., Dover<br />

973-366-0119<br />

sackspaint.net<br />

Sunset Decks & Outdoor Lvg<br />

973-846-3088<br />

sunsetdecksnj.com<br />

Wilson Services<br />

973-383-2112<br />

WilsonServices.com<br />


AAA Dock & Marine<br />

27 Prospect Point Rd., LH<br />

973-663-4998<br />

docksmarina@hotmail.com<br />

Batten The Hatches<br />

70 Rt. 181, LH<br />

973-663-1910<br />

facebook.com/bthboatcovers<br />

Lake Management Sciences<br />

Branchville<br />

973-948-0107<br />

lakemgtsciences.com<br />


Katz’s Marinas<br />

22 Stonehenge Rd., LH<br />

973-663-0224<br />

katzmarinaatthecove.com<br />

342 Lakeside Ave., Hopatcong<br />

973-663-3214<br />

antiqueboatsales.com<br />

Lake’s End Marina<br />

91 Mt. Arlington Blvd., Landing<br />

973-398-5707<br />

lakesendmarina.net<br />

Morris County Marine<br />

745 US 46W, Kenvil<br />

201-400-6031<br />

South Shore Marine<br />

862-254-2514<br />

southshoremarine180@gmail.com<br />



Lake Hopatcong Commission<br />

260 Lakeside Blvd.,Landing<br />

973-601-7801<br />

commissioner@lakehopatcongcommission.org<br />

Lake Hopatcong Elks Lodge<br />

201 Howard Blvd., MA<br />

973-398-9835<br />

lakehopatcongelks.com<br />

Lake Hopatcong Foundation<br />

125 Landing Rd., Landing<br />

973-663-2500<br />

lakehopatcongfoundation.org<br />

Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum<br />

260 Lakeside Blvd., Landing<br />

973-398-2616<br />

lakehopatconghistory.com<br />



Barbara Anne Dillon,,O.D.,P.A.<br />

180 Howard Blvd., Ste. 18 MA<br />

973-770-1380<br />

Fox Architectural Design<br />

546 St. Rt. 10 W, Ledgewood<br />

973-970-9355<br />

foxarch.com<br />

RBC Wealth Management<br />

wade.martin@rbc.com<br />

609-936-6411<br />

www.martinwmg.com<br />


Kathleen Courter<br />

RE/MAX<br />

131 Landing Rd., Roxbury<br />

973-420-0022 Direct<br />

KathySellsNJHomes.com<br />

Robin Dora<br />

Sotheby’s International<br />

670 Main St., Towaco<br />

973-570-6633<br />

thedoragroup.com<br />

Christopher J. Edwards<br />

RE/MAX<br />

211 Rt. 10E, Succasunna<br />

973-598-1008<br />

MrLakeHopatcong.com<br />

Karen Foley<br />

Sotheby’s International<br />

670 Main St., Towaco<br />

973-906-5021<br />

prominentproperties.com<br />

Geba Realty<br />

Century 21<br />

23 Main St., Sparta<br />

973-726-0333<br />

C21GebaRealty.com<br />

Jim Leffler<br />

RE/MAX<br />

131 Landing Rd., Roxbury<br />

201-919-5414<br />

Darla Quaranta<br />

Century 21<br />

23 Main St., Sparta<br />

973-229-0452<br />

livelovelakelife.com<br />


Alice’s Restaurant<br />

24 Nolan’s Pt. Park Rd., LH<br />

973-663-9600<br />

alicesrestaurantnj.com<br />

Big Fish Lounge At Alice’s<br />

24 Nolan’s Pt. Park Rd., LH<br />

973-663-9600<br />

alicesrestaurantnj.com<br />

The Beacon<br />

453 River Styx Rd., Hopatcong<br />

thebeaconlh.com<br />

The Bagel Place<br />

181 Howard Blvd., MA<br />

973-810-3636<br />

thebagelplace.net<br />

The Windlass Restaurant<br />

45 Nolan’s Point Park Rd., LH<br />

973-663-3190<br />

thewindlass.com<br />


Preferred Care at Home<br />

George & Jill Malanga/Owners<br />

973-512-5131<br />

PreferHome.com/nwjersey<br />


Alstede Fresh @ Lindeken<br />

54 NJ Rt 15 N, Wharton<br />

908-879-7189<br />

AlstedeFarms.com<br />

At The Lake Jewelry<br />

atthelakejewelry.com<br />

Four Sisters Winery<br />

783 Rt 519W, Belvidere<br />

908-475-3671<br />

foursisterswinery.com<br />

Hawk Ridge Farm<br />

283 Espanong Rd, LH<br />

hawkridgefarmnj.com<br />

Hearth & Home<br />

1215 Rt. 46, Ledgewood<br />

973-252-0190<br />

hearthandhome.net<br />

Helrick’s Custom Framing<br />

158 W Clinton St., Dover<br />

973-361-1559<br />

helricks.com<br />

Italy Tours with Maria<br />

ItalyTourswithMaria@yahoo.com<br />

Main Lake Market<br />

234 S. NJ Ave., LH<br />

973-663-0544<br />

mainlakemarket.com<br />

Orange Carpet & Wood Gallery<br />

470 Rt. 10W, Ledgewood<br />

973-584-5300<br />

orange-carpet.com<br />

The Fade Barber Shop<br />

181 Howard Blvd., MA<br />

201-874-2657<br />


Woodport Self Storage<br />

17 Rt. 181 & 20 Tierney Rd.<br />

Lake Hopatcong<br />

973-663-4000<br />

40<br />

LAKE HOPATCONG NEWS <strong>Fourth</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>July</strong> <strong>2023</strong>




open<br />

THURSDAY & FRIDAY1PM - 6pm and SATURDAY 10AM - 1pm<br />



A One Stop-shop<br />

Accessible by Car or Boat<br />

973.663.0544 mainlakemarket.com<br />

mainlakemarket<br />



SNACKS<br />



GIFTS<br />


TOYS & GAMES<br />



& MORE!<br />




lakehopatcongnews.com 41

akeside<br />

CoNstruCtioN<br />

A full service site-work<br />

contrActor speciAlizing<br />

in the following AreAs:<br />

excAvAting & pAving<br />

Bridges<br />

roAd construction<br />

site work<br />

utilities<br />

crushing<br />

www.Lakeside-NJ.com<br />

973-398-4517<br />

Fax 973-398-5623




❖ Construction Drilling & Blasting<br />

❖ Drilling & Blasting for Utilities, Mass<br />

Excavations, Roadways & Bridges<br />

❖ Quarry Drilling & Blasting<br />

❖ Drilling & Blasting for Residential<br />

and Commercial Projects<br />

❖ Explosive & Non-Explosive Methods<br />

info@northwestexplosives.com<br />

P.O. Box 806<br />

Hopatcong, New Jersey 07843<br />

973-398-6900<br />

Fax 973-398-5623<br />

We Love Rock! Serving New Jersey & New York

adventure?<br />



single &<br />

tandem<br />


hassle-free rentals led by fun, experienced guides!<br />










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